Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics, physics, and chemistry in an effort to explain the origin of those objects and other phenomena and their evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets, but also include phenomena such as supernova explosions. More generally, everything that originates outside of Earth’s atmosphere is within the purview of astronomy.

Astronomy is also one of the oldest of the natural sciences. Early civilizations such as the Babylonians, Greeks, Indians, Egyptians, Nubians, Iranians, and Chinese carried out methodical observations of the night sky. Also, astronomy has included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, and the making of calendars. As civilizations developed, especially in Mesopotamia, Greece, Persia, India, China, Egypt, and Central America, astronomical observatories were assembled and ideas on the nature of our Universe began to develop. However, most early astronomy consisted of mapping the positions of the stars and planets (early astrometry). Thus, from these observations, early ideas about the motions of the planets were formed, and the nature of the Sun, Moon and the Earth in the Universe were explored philosophically. However, back then, the Earth was believed to be the center of the Universe with the Sun, the Moon and the stars rotating around it.

How did the Middle East influence astronomy?

During the middle ages, astronomy flourished in the Arab world. Therefore, this led to the emergence of the first astronomical observatories by the early 9th century. In 964, the Andromeda Galaxy, the largest galaxy in the Local Group (the galaxy group that includes the Milky Way), was described by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi in his “Book of Fixed Stars”. Also, The SN 1006 supernova, the brightest apparent magnitude stellar event in recorded history, was observed by the Egyptian-Arabic astronomer Ali ibn Ridwan and Chinese astronomers in 1006. Some of the most prominent astronomers were either Persian or Arab and they made significant contributions to science. Astronomers during that time introduced many Arabic names now used for individual stars. Thus, we compiled a list of vocabulary items related to space. This topic often appears in newspapers, yet not many Arabic books deal with it.

Here is our list:

Space in Arabicfada’فضاء
Planet in ArabicKawkabكوكب
Galaxy in ArabicMajarahمجرة
Earth in ArabicArdأرض
Sun in ArabicShamsشمس
Star in ArabicNajmنجم
Jupiter in ArabicAl mushtariالمشتري
Moon in ArabicAl qamarالقمر
Pluto in ArabicBlotoبلوتو
Neptune in ArabicNebtoonنبتون
Uranus in ArabicOransأورانس
Spaceship in ArabicSafenah fda’yahسفينة فضائية
Satellite in ArabicQamar sina’iقمر صناعي
Saturn in ArabicZohalزحُل
Gravity in ArabicAl jathbeyehالجاذبية
Camera in ArabicAlet tasweerآلة تصوير
Astronaut in ArabicRa’ed al fada’رائد الفضاء
Rocket in ArabicSarookhصاروخ
Comet in ArabicMothanabمذنب
Orbit in ArabicFalakفَلَك
Space station in ArabicMahatta fda’yahمحطة فضائية
Telescope in ArabicMiqrabمقراب
Mars in ArabicAl mareekhالمريخ
Spacesuit in ArabicBazzah fda’yahبزة فضائية
Solar eclipse in ArabicKosofكسوف
Lunar eclipse in ArabicKhosofخسوف
Meteor in ArabicNayzakنيزك
Black hole in ArabicAl thuqb al aswadالثقب الأسود

In conclusion,

Scholars in Muslim civilization made considerable advances in the study of astronomy. For example, they made important discoveries, developed instruments, observatories and planetariums.

Certainly, eminent astronomers and scientists from that time are remembered today through their legacy. Some have their names given to craters on the Moon, and the Arabic names they used for the stars are still in use today with 165 stars still bearing Arabic names. For example, the 10th-century Persian astronomer Abdul Rahman al-Sufi was the first astronomer to mention the Andromeda galaxy – the Milky Way’s next-door neighbor. He named it ‘little cloud’.

The names of the stars that are still known by their Arabic names include: Leo’s Denebola, which comes from the Arabic word dhanab, meaning ‘the lion’s tail’, and Orion’s Rigel, meaning ‘the foot’.

in addition, the brightest star in Taurus is the orange-coloured Aldebaran (in Arabic ‘the follower’).

Astronomy is a field that interests many, regardless of their origin and background, and now you have some fun facts to share with your friends!

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