Abu-Mahmud al-Khujandi

Abu Mahmud Hamid ibn Khidr Khojandi (known as Abu Mahmood Khojandi, Alkhujandi or al-Khujandi, Persian: ابومحمود خجندی, c. 940 - 1000) was a Central Asian astronomer and mathematician with Mongol orijin who lived in the late 10th century and helped build an observatory, near the city of Ray (near today's Tehran), in Iran. He was born in Khujand; a bronze bust of the astronomer is present in a park in modern-day Khujand, now part of Tajikistan.

The few facts about Khujandi's life that are known come from his surviving writings as well as from comments made by Nassereddin Tusi. From Tusi's comments it is fairly certain that Khujandi was one of the rulers of the Mongol tribe in the Khudzhand region, and thus must have come from the nobility.[1]

Astronomy

In Islamic astronomy, Khujandi worked under the patronage of the Buwayhid Amirs at the observatory near Ray, Iran, where he is known to have constructed the first huge mural sextant in 994 AD, intended to determine the Earth's axial tilt ("obliquity of the ecliptic") to high precision.

He determined the axial tilt to be 23°32'19" for the year 994 AD. He noted that measurements by earlier astronomers had found higher values (Indians: 24°; Ptolemy 23° 51') and thus discovered that the axial tilt is not constant but is in fact (currently) decreasing. His measurement of the axial tilt was however about 2 minutes too small, probably due to his heavy instrument settling over the course of the observations.[2][3]

Mathematics

In Islamic mathematics, he stated a special case of Fermat's last theorem for n = 3, but his attempted proof of the theorem was incorrect. The spherical law of sines may have also been discovered by Khujandi, but it is uncertain whether he discovered it first, or whether Abu Nasr Mansur, Abul Wafa or Nasir al-Din al-Tusi discovered it first.[4][5]

Notes

References

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External links

  • (PDF version)
  • History of Islamic Science
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