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Zenith

(583 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
, the vertical point, i. e. the highest point in the visible sphere of the heavens in the direction of the vertical (plumb line) above the observer, at the same time the upper (visible) pole of the horizon. The technical astronomical term for zenith in Arabic is samt al-raʾs or samt al-ruʾūs, which means “direction ( samt) of the head”, corresponding to the Greek κορυφή or τò κατά κορυφὴν σημεĩον. Plato Tiburtinus reproduces samt al-raʾs in his Latin translation as zenith capitis or zenith capitum, the Spanish translation of al-Battānī by el zonte (el zont) de la cabeça (cf. al-Battānī, Opus a…

Zuhara

(1,001 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
, the planet Venus. The Arabic name comes from the root z-h-r “to shine, to illuminate” and is given on account of the extraordinary brilliance of the planet. In Sumerian it was called (according to Kugler, Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel), Zib, in Accadian Dilbat (identical with Δελεφατ in Hesychius, v. 558). The Egyptians called it (according to Maspero, Hist. anc. des peuples de l’Orient classique) Bonu “bird”, and as evening star Uâiti and as morning star Tiu-nutiri. (Maspero, Hist. anc. des peuples de l’Orient of 1884 gives Bennu as evening star and Duâu as morning star: cf. E.…

Zuḥal

(821 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
, the planet Saturn. Zuḥal (without nunation) is derived from the Arabic root z-ḥ-l “to remove”; the planet takes its name,according to the Tad̲j̲ al-ʿArūs, from the fact that it is “far removed, in the seventh heaven”. Another name found in texts from Spain and N. W. Africa is al-Muḳātil “the warlike”, just as we have there al-Kātib “the writer” alongside of the usual name ʿUṭārid for the planet Mercury (cf. the note on al-Kātib in the article ʿuṭārid). In Sumerian, according to Kugler, the name of Saturn was Lu-lim, in Accadian Lu-bat Sag-uš = Kaimānu (Kewan); the latter is obviously the…

ʿUṭārid

(968 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
(a.), the planet Mercury, Pers. Tīr. It was known from very early times to the ancient civilisations of the east as its conditions of visibility are much more favourable there than in more northern latitudes. Lists of planets of the Assyrian period mention Mercury ( Nabû) under its Sumerian name Kakkab LU. BAT. GÙ. UD. Among the Egyptians it was called the “star of Apollo”, among the Greeks ὁ τοῦ ʿΕρμοῦ ἀστήρ and also Στίλβων (cf. Achilles Tatius, Isagoge, Ch. 17). Aristotle also calls it ὁ τοῦ ʾΑπόλλωνοΣ. The name al-Kātib as a synonym for ʿUṭārid is, according to Nallino (al-Battānī, Opus Ast…

Nadir

(94 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
(Nahẓīr al-Samt or al-Nahẓīr κατ’ ἐξοχήν), the bottom, the pole of the horizon (invisible) under the observer in the direction of the vertical, also the deepest (lowest) point in the sphere of heaven. The nadir is the opposite pole to the zenith [q. v.]. The word naẓīr (from naẓara, “to see”, “to observe”) originally (and generally) means the ¶ point diametrically opposite a point on the circumference of a circle or the surface of a sphere; we find muḳābal as a synonym of naẓīr in this general meaning [cf. also muḳābala]. (Willy Hartner)

Zamān

(2,955 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
(pl. azmān, azmun, azmina), time. As a guide to the distinction in use between zamān (common to the Semitic languages) and waḳt (only Arabic with the meaning of “time”) the following rules may be deduced from the Arabic works of a scientific naturè, although they appear to be not infrequently broken even in works that have been compiled with great care. Zamān is used predominantly for time as a philosophical or mathematical conception in contrast to makān, “space” (the similarity in sound between these two words has possibly not been without influence on the preference given to zamān over waḳ…

Minṭaḳa

(3,474 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
or Minṭaḳat al-Burūd̲j̲ also Min-ṭAḳa Falak al-Burūd̲j̲ or (more rarely) Niṭāḳ al-Burūd̲j̲ means, like the technical term Falak al-Bukūd̲j̲ most frequently used in scientific literature, the circle ( minṭaḳa) of the twelve signs of the zodiac (“towers”, Greek πύργοι), then the zone of the ecliptic formed of the twelve signs each covering 30°. The Ḳurʾān contains references to minṭaḳa in three different passages, viz: Sūra xv. 16: “We have placed towers ( burūd̲j̲) in the heavens and adorned them for the spectators”. Sūra xxv. 61: „ Blessed be he that placed towers ( burūd̲j̲) in the hea…

Wega

(777 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
(Vega) (al-Nasr al-wāḳiʿ). The Arabic name al-Nasr al-wāḳiʿ “the falling eagle” — in Latin always reproduced as Vultur cadens, in Greek γὺψ καθειμένοΣ, although nasr is undoubtedly the eagle not the vulture — is the name first of the brightest star (first magnitude) α in the constellation of the Lyre and secondly of the whole constellation of the Lyre itself. The name Vega, a corruption of wāḳiʿ is found in this form as early as the Alfonsine Tables e. g. “Lucida super pupillam deferentem et est Alohore et dicitur Wega”. The expression pupilla deferens which here occurs for the first ti…

Mut̲h̲allat̲h̲

(394 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
also Mut̲h̲allat̲h̲a, plur. always mut̲h̲allat̲h̲āt, triangle; it forms the first category of plane surfaces bounded by straight lines ( al-basāʾiṭ al-musaṭṭaḥa al-mustaḳīmat al-k̲h̲uṭūṭ) (cf. al-Ḵh̲wārizmī, Mafātīḥ, p. 206). Following Euclid’s Elements, i., ῞ΟροΣ 24—29, the Arab mathematicians classify triangles from two points of view: either According to the sides ( ḍilʿ, pl. aḍlāʿ) into equilateral ( al-mut̲h̲allat̲h̲ al-mutasāwi ’l-aḍlāʿ, in Euclid τρίγωνoν ἰσόπλευρoν), isosceles ( almut̲h̲allat̲h̲ al-mutasāwi ’l-ḍilʿain, τρίγωνoν ἰσoσκελέΣ) and scalene ( al-mut…

Muḳābala

(456 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy
, Gr. διάμετροΣ, in the Almagest ἀκρόνυκτοΣ, Lat. oppositio, the term in astronomy for the opposition of a planet and the sun or of two planets with one another. In opposition the ¶ difference in longitude between the two heavenly bodies is 180°; while the modern use if to take no note of the deviations of latitude from the ecliptic, al-Battānī expressly emphasises ( Opus astronomicum, ed. Nallino, iii. 196) that we can only have the true muḳābala when both bodies are either in the ecliptic itself or are in equal ecliptical latitudes when opposed: in other wo…

Nūr

(2,582 words)

Author(s): Hartner, Willy | de Boer, Tj.
(a.), light, synonym ḍawʾ, also ḍūʾ and ḍiyāʾ (the latter sometimes used in the plural). According to some authors, ḍawʾ ( ḍiyāʾ) has a more intensive meaning than nūr (cf. Lane, Arabic-English Dictionary, s.v. ḍawʾ); this idea has its foundation in Ḳurʾān x. 5, where the sun is called ḍiyāʾ and the moon nūr. The further deduction from this passage that ḍiyāʾ is used for the light of light producing bodies (sun) and nūr on the other hand for the reflected light in bodies which do not emit light (moon), is not correct, if we remember the primitive knowledg…