On Monday, millions of Americans looked skyward to observe the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the United States in almost one century.

Many used a pin-hole camera to safely view the astronomical event - which, it turns out, is credited to a Muslim physicist from the Arab world.

With anti-Muslim sentiment on the rise in the West, here's a reminder of one of many often-disregarded contributions Muslims have presented to the world:

As Huffington Post's social media editor, Rowaida Abdelaziz, pointed out on Twitter, the camera obscura - commonly known as the pinhole camera - was invented by Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040), also known by his Latinized first name "Alhazen".

The scientist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, was born in Iraq and spent most of his life in Egypt.

Often dubbed "the father of optics," Al-Haytham is considered one of history's most prominent Muslim scientists and among the top researchers of optics of all time.

Among his many contributions to the world of optics is his invention of the camera obscura.

Here's a rough demonstration of how the camera works

Al-Haytham made a tiny hole on the side of an opaque box, allowing light rays to be projected through that hole into the box, then falling on the latter's back wall. 

With that mechanism, he managed to build devices that capture accurate images after noting that "the smaller the pinhole, the sharper the image quality," according to Lost Islamic History.

Al-Haytham helped develop the world's first cameras

Arab Muslim scientist Alhazen Ibn Al Haytham
Source: Youtube

According to the BBC, Al-Haytham was the first scientist to correctly explain how humans perceive light and see objects. He is also credited with discovering the laws of refraction.

He established the idea that we see objects because the light that shines upon them enters our eyes, experimentally proving what is known as the emission theory.

He was actually the first scientist to use mathematics to demonstrate that process.

Through his research on how light travels through apertures, he played a major role in the development of the world's first cameras, having provided the basis for the mechanisms used in modern-day cameras.

Why does his ethnicity matter?