- No Place Like Home
How ‘The Land of the Stars’ Shaped Astronomy (and Me)
In the mountains and deserts of the Middle East, the region's role in shaping our modern view of the cosmos quickly comes into focus.
In some ways, the language of astronomy is derived from Arabic: Familiar stars such as Betelgeuse, Altair, Deneb, and Rigel retain their original names; terms like “azimuth” and “nadir” have their roots in this exquisite and perplexing part of the world.
And as surely as I grew up surrounded by messages to the stars, Arabic was a language of my childhood.
This summer, after more than three decades on this planet, I finally visited the seaside village in Lebanon where my mama, Amahl, was born. Just north of Jbeil (also known as Byblos), Anfeh rests along the same coast the Phoenicians bid farewell to as they sailed into the unknown, using starlight to guide them in the dark.
It’s a place where salt