Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī

  • Glen Van Brummelen
Reference work entry

Bornūs, (Ira), circa1135

Died (Iran), 1213

Although Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī is known especially for his mathematics (in particular his novel work on the solutions of cubic equations), he was also the inventor of the linear astrolabe, a tool that derives from the planispheric astrolabe but is more easily constructed. From his name we may infer that Sharaf al-Dīn was born in the region of Ṭūs, in northeastern Iran. He spent a major part of his early career as a teacher of the sciences, including astronomy and astrology, in Damascus and Aleppo; he also taught in Mosul. Among his students was Kamāl al-Dīn ibn Yūnus, who would eventually teach Sharaf’s namesake, the great  Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī.

Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī devoted several treatises to the linear astrolabe, sometimes called the staff of al-Ṭūsī. Its principle is simple – many of the important circles on the planispheric astrolabe, especially the almucantars (altitude circles) and the circles of declination, are centered on the...

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Selected References

  1. Al-Tūsī, Sharaf al-Dīn (1986). Oeuvres mathématiques: Algèbre et géométrie au XIIe siècle, edited and translated by Roshdi Rashed. 2 Vols. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  2. Carra de Vaux, R. (1895). “L’astrolabe linéaire ou bâton d’al-Tousi.” Journal asiatique, 9th ser., 5: 464–516.Google Scholar
  3. Michel, Henri (1943). “L’astrolabe linéaire d’al-Tusi.” Ciel et terre 59: 101–107.ADSGoogle Scholar
  4. — (1947). Traité de lastrolabe. Paris: Gauthier-Villars.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glen Van Brummelen
    • 1
  1. 1.Quest UniversitySquamishCanada