Columbus Voyage of Discovery 1492

April 20th, 2011  
Del Boy

Topic: Columbus Voyage of Discovery 1492

(August 12, 1452 – probably 1515) was a Sephardi Jewish astronomer, astrologer, mathematician and historian.

Royal Astronomer in the 15th century to King John II of Portugal.

The crater Zagut on the Moon is named after him.

He is Del Boy's 15th Great-Grandfather.

Abraham Zacuto (1452-1514), probably of the first Jewish sages who embraced modernity while keeping the unbroken chain of tradition from Abraham to the Talmud scholars to Moses Maimonides. He was a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, a leading astronomer who stood at the cradle of great geographical discoveries of 16th century.

Abraham Zacuto - adviser of Columbus and guide of Vasco da Gama.

Columbus set sail on August 3, 1492, a day after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain began. Abraham Zacuto and Joseph Vecinho provided the technical expertise that helped Columbus navigate the "Ocean Sea."

. The astronomical tables of the astronomer and rabbi, Abraham Zacuto, published by the last of the Jewish printers in Portugal, Abraham Orta, one year before the Jews were expelled. What makes this book of particular historical importance is that Christopher Columbus used the Zacuto astronomical tables in his journeys of discovery.

Abraham Zacuto, Tabulae astronomicae, Leiria, 1496. Rare Book and Special Collections Division.


Among those who made use of Zacuto's astronomical tables was Christopher Columbus. *A copy of those tables with Columbus's notes is preserved in Seville.*
What made the tables accessible to Columbus was their having been translated into Spanish by a pupil of Zacuto, Joseph Vecinho, physician to King John II. According to tradition Vecinho gave his translated work to Columbus for his journey.

Zacuto prepared the charts used by Vasco da Gama on his successful journey to India, but his high position and contribution to Portuguese imperial expansion availed him little when, in 1497, the Jews in Portugal were forced to convert, and he was forced once again to flee. In Tunis, in 1504, Zacuto completed his historical narrative, Sefer ha-Yuhasin, in which he claimed: "My books are read all over the Christian and even the Muslim world."