Almagest


Almagest
/al"meuh jest'/, n.
1. (italics) a Greek work on astronomy by Ptolemy.
2. (l.c.) any of various medieval works of a like kind, as on astrology or alchemy.
[1350-1400; ME almageste < MF < Ar al the + majisti < Gk megíste (sýntaxis) greatest (composition)]

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Astronomical and mathematical encyclopedia compiled с AD 140 by Ptolemy.

It served as the basic guide for Arab and European astronomers until the 17th century. The name derives from the Arabic for "the greatest." Its 13 books cover such topics as the geocentric (Earth-centred), or Ptolemaic, model of the solar system; eclipses; the coordinates and sizes of certain fixed stars; and the distances to the Sun and the Moon.

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▪ work by Ptolemy
      astronomical manual written about AD 150 by Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus of Alexandria). It served as the basic guide for Islamic and European astronomers until about the beginning of the 17th century. Its original name was Mathematike Syntaxis (“The Mathematical Arrangement”); Almagest arose as an Arabic corruption of the Greek word for greatest (megiste). It was translated into Arabic about 827 and then from Arabic to Latin in the last half of the 12th century. Subsequently, the Greek text circulated widely in Europe, although the Latin translations from Arabic continued to be more influential.

      The Almagest is divided into 13 books. Book 1 gives arguments for a geocentric, spherical cosmos and introduces the necessary trigonometry, along with a trigonometry table, that allowed Ptolemy in subsequent books to explain and predict the motions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars. Book 2 uses spherical trigonometry (trigonometry) to explain cartography and astronomical phenomena (such as the length of the longest day) characteristic of various localities. Book 3 deals with the motion of the Sun and how to predict its position in the zodiac at any given time, and Books 4 and 5 treat the more difficult problem of the Moon's motion. Book 5 also describes the construction of instruments to aid in these investigations. The theory developed to this point is applied to solar and lunar eclipses (eclipse) in Book 6.

      Books 7 and 8 mainly concern the fixed stars, giving ecliptic coordinates and magnitudes for 1,022 stars. This star catalog relies heavily on that of Hipparchus (129 BC), and in the majority of cases Ptolemy simply converted Hipparchus's description of the location of each star to ecliptic coordinates and then shifted these values by a constant to account for precession over the intervening centuries. These two books also discuss the construction of a star globe that adjusts for precession. The remaining five books, the most original, set forth in detail geometric models for the motion of the five planets visible to the naked eye, together with tables for predicting their positions at any given time.

Additional Reading
Olaf Pedersen, A Survey of the Almagest (1974), is helpful in understanding and appreciating Ptolemy's methods and results.G.J. Toomer (trans. and ed.), Ptolemy's Almagest (1984; reissued 1998), is the best translation of the Almagest in any modern language and is based on the Greek text.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Almagest — Al ma*gest, n. [F. almageste, LL. almageste, Ar. al majist[=i], fr. Gr. ? (sc. ?), the greatest composition.] The celebrated work of Ptolemy of Alexandria, which contains nearly all that is known of the astronomical observations and theories of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Almăgest — (arab. u. gr., d.i. das große [Werk]), bei den Arabern das große System (μεγάλη σὐνταξις) des Ptolemäos, s.d …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Almagést — (Almedschisti; für griech. μεγίστη, »die größte«), der verstümmelte Titel des Lehrgebäudes der Astronomie von Ptolemäos (s. d.) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Almagést — Almagést, Titel der arab. Übersetzung des astron. Werks (»Syntaxis mathematica«) des Ptolemäus …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Almagest — Almagest, arab., das Große, das System des Ptolemäus …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • almagest — (n.) late 14c., title of a treatise on astronomy by Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria, extended in Middle English to other works on astrology or astronomy, from O.Fr. almageste (13c.), from Arabic al majisti, from al the + Gk. megiste the greatest… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Almagest — [al′mə jest΄] n. [ME < OFr almageste < Ar al majistī < al, the + Gr megistē (syntaxis), greatest (work)] 1. a vast work on astronomy and mathematics compiled by Ptolemy c.A.D. 140 2. [a ] any of several medieval works like this,… …   English World dictionary

  • Almagest — Geometric construction used by Hipparchus in his determination of the distances to the sun and moon. The Almagest is a 2nd century mathematical and astronomical treatise on the apparent motions of the stars and planetary paths. Written in Greek… …   Wikipedia

  • Almagest — Darstellung des ptolemäischen Weltsystems (1661) Almagest (griechisch μαθηματική σύνταξις, arabisch ‏المجسطي‎, DMG al maǧisṭī) nennt man eines der Hauptwe …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Almagést — Darstellung des ptolemäischen Weltsystems (1661) Almagest (griechisch μαθηματική σύνταξις, arabisch ‏المجسطي‎, DMG al maǧisṭī) nennt man eines der Hauptwerke der antiken Astronomie, das auf den hellen …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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