Mehmet Fatin Gökmen

Meteorolog, Astronom

Riyaziye Medresesi
Diğer İsimler
Fatin Hoca

Astronomer, meteorologist, the founder of Istanbul Observatory (B. 1877, Akseki/Antalya - B., 1955, Istanbul). He was known much more as “Fatin Hodja”. He was the son of Abdülgaffar Efendi and the father of Sitare Gökmen and astronomer Tarık Gökmen. He completed his primary education at Akseki and Alanya and secondary education in Bayındır district of Izmir. He completed the preparatory classes at Fatih Madrasah, Istanbul. While he was studying in the service of chief astrologer of the time, Hüseyin Hilmi Efendi; because of his interest in astronomy and mathematics, he drew the attention of Salih Zeki Bey who was one of the well-known scholars of the period. Upon the encouragement of him, he started to study at Riyaziye Medresesi (The Faculty of Mathematical Sciences) in 1901. After graduating from the Riyaziye Medresesi with first place degree in 1904, he taught mathematics at various schools. He gave lectures on astronomy and probability calculus at the school he graduated from for a while. He was the director of the school for some time.

Because he was also interested in politics, he was one of the founders of the Committee of Union and Progress and he was arrested for a while. Following the announcement of 2nd Constitutional Monarchy (1908), he left the politics and turned to science completely. He was appointed to the directorship of Rasathane-i Amire (T.N. Imperial Observatory) in 1910 by the Minister of Education during the period of Committee of Union and Progress, Emrullah Efendi. He was the founder and the first director of the Kandilli Observatory. The observatory, in fact, had been active since 1868, but the building and the equipment were destroyed during the March 31 events (13-14 April 1909).              Kandilli Observatory was founded as Rasathane-i Amire in Istanbul with the recommendations of the French Government, and Aristide Coumbary was the first officer of the organization. After being appointed as the director of the observatory, at the end of his researches, Mehmet Fatin Bey chose the fire observation tower of Istanbul Municipality which was affiliated to the Artillery Unit of the Bosphorus Commandership, located at today’s İcadiye hill in Üsküdar and consisted of one tower and two small chambers. He began to work immediately to the reconstruction works of the existing buildings with five hundred pieces of gold given by the Minister of Education. Then, he contacted the manager of the French Meteorological Association, Angot, and he gave the order for the necessary equipment for a first-class meteorological station. From the date of July 1, 1911, he launched a continuous and systematic measurement and record of the meteorological factors with the tools he had supplied.

When the Turkish Republic was established, the young government only inherited the Kandilli Observatory in the field of meteorology. On 19 August 1924, the National Board of Education decided to affiliate the Kandilli Observatory to Istanbul University, by converting the observatory into a general directorate. However, Fatin Gökmen opposed this decision and insisted that Kandilli Observatory would continue its activities as a separate organization. After that, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministries of Agriculture and Public Works created separate meteorology organizations.

In 1923, Mehmet Fatin made a proposal to the parliament of the newly established Turkish Republic to form a meteorological organization that was independent from the Observatory. He then insisted on this topic and proposed that the Kandilli Observatory should focus on astronomy and geophysics, besides the meteorological observatory activities just like the Uccle Royal Observatory in Belgium. For this, he made an effort and started the construction of the building and provided the purchase of necessary equipments.

After a fifteen-year-long effort, he brought a 20-millimeter Zeiss telescope from Germany in 1935 and collected many books and manuscripts on mathematics and astronomy throughout his life. This library is still have an important place for the scholars and used by the researchers extensively. He granted his private library to Süleymaniye Library. He also calculated the beginnings of the months for Moslem-Lunar calendar that was officially used until 1926 in Turkey

Also interested in the history of science, and in particular the history of astronomy, his researches were collected in the books under the name of “Türk Takvimi”,“Eski Hitay Takvimi” and “Eski Türklerde Hey’et ve Takvim”. In addition, he has a work named “Rubu Tahtası, Nazariyâtı ve Tersimi” on the “rubu” board, a tool used to monitor and account since ancient times.

Although he was giving lectures at Istanbul University; following the university reform in 1933, he wasn’t accepted as the faculty member due to the fact that he was from madrasah origin and he devoted himself entirely to his researches in the observatory. To set up an observatory in the Western sense of ideals, he went into an intense work environment and worked under difficult circumstances. Ultimately, he built Kandilli Observatory on solid basis. In 1943, he retired from Kandilli Observatory, to which he dedicated his life. After he retired, he entered in politics again and served as the deputy of Konya between the years of 1943-50.             Mehmet Fatin Gökmen died in Istanbul in 1955. TUBITAK Service Award was held in memory of him in 1973 and his name was given to a primary school in Beykoz (Beykoz Fatin Hoca Elementary School).


            Türk Takvimi (1936), Eski Hitay Takvimi (1936), 19 Haziran 1936 Küsûf-i Küllîsi (1936), Eski Türklerde Heyet ve Takvim (1937), Rubu Tahtası Nazariyatı ve Tersimi (1948). 

            REFERENCE: İbrahim Alaeddin Gövsa / Türk Meşhurları (1946), Cumhuriyetin 50. Yılında Türk Rasathaneleri (1973, s. 13), Türkiye Ansiklopedisi (c. 1, s. 232, 1974), Türk ve Dünya Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi (c. 5, s. 2459; 1983-85), Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslâm Ansiklopedisi (c. 14, s. 142, 1996), İhsan Işık / Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006) - Ünlü Bilim Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 2, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013).



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