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‘The key to Paradise is prayer’: A Workshop for the Islamic Astrolabe

Two delegates compare notes as they assemble their astrolabes with intent look of concentration on their faces.Directed by Kristine Larsen

When: Monday 03 July, 19.00-20.30
Where: Stage@Leeds: Stage 1
This event is free of charge.

Astronomy is central to the Islamic faith in terms of defining the timing of its calendar and religious observances. It has one of the truly lunar calendars (solely based on the phases of the moon), with the month beginning with the sighting of the barely born waxing crescent moon just after sunset. The five prayer times of each day are also related to astronomical phenomenon, such as twilight, local noon, and sunset. It is also important that prayers be done while facing the direction of the holy Kaaba in Mecca (called the qibla). Astrolabes were used in medieval times to compute all of these important parameters.

This hands-on workshop is an introduction to the basic moving parts of an Eastern or Islamic astrolabe, as well as the computations of the five prayer times and the qibla. No prior knowledge is necessary, and all materials will be provided. Instruction guides and a cardboard astrolabe to take home will be provided. This workshop is limited to 75 participants and places will be allocated on a first-come, first served basis.

The workshop is presented by Central Connecticut State University astronomy professor Kristine Larsen, who has made similar presentations at the International Medieval Congress at Western Michigan University for several years, as well as numerous other universities and educational centers.