Astronomers in the Middle East have long relied on the appearance of stars to determine weather changes.
Qatar and the rest of the Gulf region are witnessing the winter season’s 13 coldest days under the Al-Shoula star (Najm Al-Shoula) weather phenomenon, Doha’s weather department announced on X on Monday.
The Qatari weather department explained that January 1 marked the beginning of the Al-Shoula season, under which the population will witness colder days and higher chances of fog until January 14. The rest of the Gulf region is also witnessing the weather change.
Astronomers in the Middle East region have long relied on the appearance of the Al-Shoula star as an indicator of the beginning of the drop in temperatures. The star’s name was inspired by its shape which resembles the scorpion’s tail.
Astrology in the Arab region
Astrology was among the most significant disciplines in the Middle East during the Abbasid times in Baghdad between the eighth and tenth centuries, which built on existing sources from Greece, Iran and India.
Rulers at the time, including those in Cairo, Rayy, Isfahan, and other areas heavily invested in astrology.
The developed research helped shape the region’s understanding of the moon and the sun’s movements as well as the weather’s predictions.
Bedouins across the Middle East then relied on astrology to predict climate and seasonal changes, eventually reaching a point where they could detect Mecca’s direction for the daily five prayers in Islam.
It also helped determine the beginning of the fasting period during the holy month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha.
The extensive research into astronomy led to major regional inventions, most notably the astrolabe, a device used to measure time and the movement of the sun and stars.
A Muslim, Syrian-born woman named Maryam Al-Ijliya, famously known as Mariam al Astrulabi, invented the astrolabe in the 10th century after gaining experience from her father — an astrolabe maker in Baghdad.
Other prominent inventions included Ismail Al-Jazari’s three-metre ‘elephant clock.’ Built in the 1200s, the invention helped Muslims tell the time of their five daily prayers, from the break of dawn to nighttime.
It included a weight-powered water clock that was placed in the structure of an elephant that carried dragons, a phoenix, and a turban, representing numerous cultures. Another invention by Al-Jazari included a robot that produced a sound whenever an hour passed.
Astrology also led to the invention of maps, with one of the most famous maps dating back to the 12th century, created by the Andalusian cartographer, Al-Idrisi in Sicily.
He was able to provide an accurate illustration of the world which became the go-to map for all travellers.