Observatory of Ulugbek

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Observatory of Ulugbek was the largest observatory in the whole of Central Asia. The observatory was built in the period from 1428 to 1429 by Mirzo Ulugbek (Muhammad Taragai Ulugbek), who was the grandson of Amir Temur, a great scientist, astronomer and astrologer.

The Ulugbek Observatory occupies a special place among the historical and archeological monuments of Uzbekistan and Samarkand. Observatory is located near the Chupanatinsk mountains. In 1902, the great Russian archaeologist and historian Vyatkin VL discovered the remnants of the observatory on one of the hills of the Uplands of Kuhak. Later another prominent archaeologist, VA Shishkin, continued excavations, discovered the foundation of the building and performed the reconstruction of the observatory.

Initially, the observatory was a three-storey cylindrical building. The height of the observatory’s building was 30.4 meters and its diameter was 46.6 meters. In the central part of the observatory was a grand sectarian in the form of a large arc. The radius of the sectarian’s circumference was 40 meters, and the length was 63 meters. The sectarian was the main measuring instrument of the observatory, it determined the finding of celestial bodies and other basic quantities of astronomy.

The arc of the sectarian is limited by two marble barriers, on which are divided divisions and figures, as on each degree of the circle. Each degree of sectarian had a distance of 70 centimeters. In addition, on the sides were built brick stairs. Surprising is that the sectarian is precisely oriented from north to south along the meridian.
At present, from the once majestic structure, only the entrance portal and the underground part of the sectarian, which is 11 meters, remained.

It was with the help of the sectarian Mirzo Ulugbek that he created his famous «Astronomical Tables», which enjoyed great fame throughout Central Asia and for very long remained unsurpassed in accuracy.

It should be noted that in this observatory worked great scientific astronomers of the time Jemshid Kashi, Kazy-zade Rumi, Ali Kushchi and others.

After the death of Ulugbek in 1449, the observatory ceased to function and after several decades was dismantled in bricks for the construction of another structure.

Near the observatory a small museum was built and a monument to Mirzo Ulugbek was erected.

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Published: 15.04.2018

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