On the 27th October 1449, probably the last of the great Arab astronomers Ulugh Beg sometimes called the Sultan of the Stars died. He was the grandson of Tamerlane the Mongol leader who founded the Timurid empire in Persia and Central Asia.
Ulugh Beg was a Timurid ruler as well as an astronomer and mathematician. He built a great observatory in Samarkand in 1428 in Central Asia which today is part of Uzbekistan. The observatory which although it contained no telescopes was considered to be one of the finest in the Islamic world and was the largest in Central Asia. It was only surpassed in importance when Tycho Brahe the Danish astronomer who studied the Supernova in 1572 built his observatory called Uraniborg in 1576.
Ulugh Beg observed the night sky from his observatory and in 1437 produced a catalogue of 994 stars and realised that the observations he was making showed that the catalogues made by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD , which were then also used by Arab astronomers were not accurate. His catalogue is regarded as the most accurate produced between those made by Ptolemy and Tycho Brahe.
Sadly his scientific expertise was not matched by his skills in running an empire. There was a lot of in fighting within his family and after several rebellions he was killed on the instructions of his son.
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|Ulugh Beg The Sultan of the Stars|
After over 4 months of fighting the during the Sino Japanese war, Japanese forces captured the city of Wuhan on October 27th 1938. The battle which covered a large geographical area was one of the most important in the early part of the war. There were heavy casualties on both sides, it is estimated that 400,000 casualties were suffered by the Chinese with the Japanese losing around 140,000 men. There are some estimates that suggest that these figures are an under estimate and that the true number iwas over a million people were killed on both sides
The second Sino-Japanese war began on July 7th 1937 with a full scale Japanese invasion of China following an incident on the Marc Polo Bridge. In 1938 Wuhan was the second largest city in China and was situated on the Yangtse and was therefore an obvious target for the Japanese.
After the battle a large part of the Chinese Air Force and Navy was destroyed, however major elements of the Chinese army remained intact. The battle had also severely weakened the Japanese army to the effect that although there were some advances into central China between 1939-42 no major operations by the Japanese forces would be launched until 1944 with the operation called Ichi-Go.
I present The Astronomy Show on the community station Drystone Radio 103.5 FM, every Wednesday afternoon between 3.00 pm and 5.00 pm. The show can be heard on line at www.drystoneradio.com
I will be lecturing on a cruise ship in the arctic looking for the Northern Lights during the next 2 weeks, the next Astronomy Show will be on Wednesday 14th November.