SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ulugbek's observatory in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Ulugbek, or Ulugh Beg, (1394-1449) built this observatory, called Gurkhani Zij, in 1428. He used it to catalogue the positions of nearly 1000 stars. He also made the most accurate measurement at the time of the length of a year. As well as his astronomical work he was a ruler of the region around Samarkand. He established a university in the town and invited mathematicians and astronomers to study there. He was defeated in battle by rival rulers and was subsequently beheaded by his own son.
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