Saturday, 08 May 2021 05:16 GMT

Museum of Islamic Art organises online session on astrolabes

(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Raynald C Rivera | The Peninsula

Doha: Man’s utter fascination with stars dates back to time immemorial; he devised ways in his pursuit to unravel their mystery and answer age-old questions with regard to the celestial bodies.

This fascination led to the invention of early astrological and astronomical instruments, perhaps most famous of which was the astrolabe.

A functional device that had aroused the interest of people for many centuries, the astrolabe will be the subject of a virtual discussion being organised by the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) this coming Saturday.

‘Amazing Astrolabes’ is ''an astronomy-inspired online session about the Astrolabes in celebration of Doha Capital of Culture in the Islamic World,” MIA has announced on its official social media accounts.

Open to children aged eight to 11 years, the online event scheduled on Saturday from 3pm to 4pm via Zoom will be conducted in English.

Tracing its etymology to the ancient Greek word ‘astolabos’ which means ‘star-taker’, astrolabe is a two-dimensional handheld model of the universe which had myriad functions for astronomers in the past. Its development and use for both secular and religious purposes reached its peak in the Islamic world.

Representing Islamic art from three continents over 1,400 years, the Museum of Islamic Art houses a large collection of objects such as ceramics, glass, manuscripts, textiles, and metalwork, among which are a great selection of astrolabes from as early as the 9th century.

One of the most prized in MIA’s astrolabe collection is a Brass Planispheric Astrolabe which, according to the museum, is ''probably the oldest surviving Islamic astrolabe in the world, made in the 9th century; the only older example was lost during the looting of the Baghdad Museum in 2003.”

The said astrolabe ''was probably made in Iraq, but was found in shallow waters off the coast of Malaysia. It may have been used on a trading expedition between Iraq and China.”

The ancient astrolabe is among the hundreds of objects in the museum’s huge collection which can be viewed online via its official website.

Those who wish to join the ‘Amazing Astrolabes’ virtual session may register at:


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