From: Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, p. 427 |
Courtesy of |
Gökmen, Mehmed
Fatin
Mustafa Kaçar
Born 1877
Died Istanbul, (Turkey),
6 December, 1955
Fatin
Gökmen is known for his reinvigoration of astronomical education in 20th‐century
Turkey. He was the founder and first director of the Kandilli Observatory
in Istanbul, and his contributions include astronomical work on observation,
the calendar, and instruments.
Fatin
– “Gökmen” was added in 1936, after the foundation of the Turkish state –
came from the district of Akseki in Antalya. His father, Qadi Abdulgaffar
Efendi, was a traditional Islamic scholar, and Fatin Gökmen's early schooling
was in the madrasa of his native town. He then moved to Istanbul where
he learned classical astronomy and the methods of calendar preparation from
the last Ottoman head‐astronomer, Hüseyin Hilmi Efendi. He also worked
in the famous Sultan Selîm time‐keeping Institute (muvakkithane).
Fatin Gökmen, encouraged by the Turkish mathematician Salih
Zeki, pursued his higher education in the fields of astronomy and
mathematics in the Ottoman University's Faculty of Sciences (Dârülfünûn),
which opened on 31 August 1900. After 3 years, he graduated from that faculty
with the first rank. Fatin subsequently taught mathematics in various high
schools, and was eventually appointed in 1909 as a lecturer in astronomy and
probability at the Faculty of Sciences of the Ottoman University. He continued
to lecture there until he resigned in 1933, as a consequence of the ongoing
reform movement.
Fatin
Gökmen was a key figure in facilitating the emergence of the modern astronomical
observatory in Turkey. The Imperial Observatory, established in Istanbul in
1867 under the directorship of A. Coumbary, was mainly a meteorological center.
With the assistance of Salih Zeki, Fatin Gökmen was appointed director of
this observatory, and he was also given the task of establishing a new observatory.
On 4 September 1910 he began work on setting up such a facility, which was
to become the Kandilli Observatory. Fatin Gökmen's initial work at the Kandilli
Observatory was publishing meteorology bulletins in 1911/1912. His work later
became more astronomically oriented and continued until his retirement in
1943.
Fatin
Gökmen first wrote on astronomy for university lectures and was influenced
by the analytical methods of the French astronomer Henri
Andoyer. This revealed itself particularly in Fatin's work on positional
astronomy entitled Vazʿiyyāt ve
vazʿiyyāta ʿāid mesāil‐i
umūmiyya. In 1927, he published his work
entitled Mathematical Astronomy and the Double‐false Theory,
compiled from his lectures at the university. His most important essay is
on the determination and calculation of the total solar eclipse. Fatin approached
the solar eclipse from an analytical perspective and, using geometry, explained
the difficulties he encountered with his calculations. Using Andoyer's methods,
he analyzed the solar eclipse of 16 June 1936, and his results were published
by the Kandilli Observatory as the L'eclipse totale du soleil du 19 Juin
1936.
Besides being an astronomer, Fatin Gökmen also did work in the history
of astronomy, particularly regarding observational instruments. He pursued
important research on the subjects of astronomy and the calendar among premodern
Turks as a contribution to The Society for the Investigation of Turkish History.
In his work entitled L'astronomie et le calendrier chez les Turcs (The
astronomy and the calendar of the [early] Turks), he benefited from studying
Zīj‐i īlkhānī of the great Islamic astronomer
Naṣīr
al‐Dīn al‐Ṭūsī. As a result of this
study, Fatin concluded that the early Turks had made use of “Hellenic–Chaldean”
astronomy, i. e., the geocentric astronomy of Ptolemy;
this was in contrast to the conventional view that they had followed Chinese
astronomy.
As
for Fatin's historical work on observational instruments, he made original
contributions in his studies of the quadrant, which he published in his Rubuʿtahtası
nazariyatı ve tersimi (The quadrant: its theory and design; Istanbul,
1948). In addition to explaining the function of this instrument, he also
shed light on the Turkish contribution to it and its transmission to modern
times. At the end of the work, Fatin included a glossary of astronomical terms
in Turkish and French. In this way he contributed to building a bridge between
the old and the new astronomy.
Fatin
Gökmen also conceived of using a particular quadrant (the Rubʿ al‐muqanṭarāṭ) to make a table of the
minimum and maximum values of the variations of the azimuth and the hour angle
(up to ±3°) for a certain latitude. He further used the quadrant for finding
the precision level required in geomagnetism, maps, and other related items
as well as for determining the amount of refraction of light and for solving
trigonometric problems.
Finally,
we should mention that Fatin Gökmen made important contributions to the establishment
and development of modern meteorology, geophysics, and seismology in Turkey.
Anon. (1969). “Gökmen, Fatin.” In Türk Ansiklopedisi
(Turkish encyclopedia). Vol. 17, pp. 501–502. Ankara.
İhsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin (2002). “The Ottoman Scientific‐Scholarly
Literature.” In History of the Ottoman State, Society and Civilisation,
edited by E. İhsanoğlu. Vol. 2, pp. 517–603, esp. 601–603. Istanbul:
IRCICA.
İhsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin, et al. (1997). Osmanlı
Astronomi Literatürü Tarihi (OALT) (History of astronomy literature
during the Ottoman period). 2 Vols. Istanbul: IRCICA, Vol. 2, pp. 720–725.