Harran to serve astronomy centuries later again
The observatory is being constructed in the historic district as part of a joint project carried out by the Southeastern Anatolian Project (GAP) Regional Development Administration (BKI) and Harran Governor’s Office.
The observatory will cover an area of approximately 100 square meters and be close to the historical ruins in the district.
In the garden of the observatory, the dome of which resembles a space shuttle, a giant model of the globe will be located.
The observatory is expected to be put into service in the first days of 2019.
The GAP BKI President Sadrettin Karahocagil said that the depth of space is always wondered by people and their goal was to bring together the beauties of Earth with people.
“The number of astronomy and space fanciers is increasing,” said Karahocagil, adding that the observatory is a good investment in Harran.
“Harran University or Harran Madrasah made serious discoveries in the field of astronomy in the past. Harran is one of the places where stars are named. In this context, we want to make an observatory here. We want to emphasize this ancient feature of Harran. We want the sky to be studied here. While studying the sky, scientific studies will also be carried out. We want academics to benefit from this place. Also, young people and children will make studies here,” he said.
Harran University Archeology Department and the head of Harran excavations, Professor Mehmet Önal said that Harran was one of the oldest settlements in the world.
As the air is dry in the region, stars can be seen clearly in the evening, Önal said, adding that the first astronomy studies in the world were carried out in Harran thanks to the shiny sky there.
“Harran was the center of science and astronomy in antiquity, so we are delighted that the observatory is being built here. In Harran, the studies on astronomy, the stars and the sky go back to 6,000 years. In Mesopotamia, the stars are glittering especially because it has a moisture-free air. Therefore, people in the past explored the sky in the Mesopotamian region much earlier than in other geographical regions. They created their first gods, goddesses, beliefs and temples as a result of the examination of this sky. There are many relics here belonging to Sin, the god of moon, Samash, the god of sun, and Ishtar, the god of star. Some of these remains are currently on display at the Şanlıurfa Archeology Museum. During the ongoing excavations in the region, we sometimes unearth findings related astronomy,” he said.
Önal also drew attention to the fact that many scientists and astronomers have grown up in Harran throughout history. Stating that especially Battani, who made important inventions in the field of astronomy, made studies in Harran, Önal emphasized that the establishment of the observatory in the historical district was of particular importance.
“Thanks to the observatory, the local and foreign tourists can better understand the scientific aspect of Harran,” Önal said, and continued:
“We know that many scholars and astronomers were educated in Harran schools in the Islamic period in the Middle Ages. Among them the most important ones are Sabit bin Kurra and Battani. Battani's name was given to a crater in the moon. Battani is known as the 'inventory of astronomy' in the first Islamic period. In particular, he closely examined the movement of the moon and the sun. He discovered the astrolabe instrument which measures distances. He is considered one of the 20 important astronomers in the world and this person is a local of Harran. It is important to build this observatory in Harran to examine the stars and planets with powerful telescopes. It is a great source of joy for us to carry Harran's forgotten scientific richness back to the present day.”