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

Ṣūfī: Abū al-Ḥusayn ҁAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ҁUmar al-Ṣūfī

  • Paul Kunitzsch
Reference work entry

BornRayy (near Tehran, Iran), 903


Ṣūfī spent his life as an astronomer in Iran, in close relation to the regional rulers of the Buyid dynasty. The most important of his several astronomical and other works was the Book on the Constellations (circa 964). In it he gave a description of the 48 Ptolemaic constellations, based on the Arabic translations of  Ptolemy’s Almagest, with detailed critique for each of the 1,025 stars in Ptolemy’s star catalog, based on his own observations. Two drawings of each constellation were added, one “as seen in the sky” and one “as seen on the (celestial) globe.”

The book became very influential both in the Orient and in Europe. Its text and nomenclature were taken up by many later authors, such as the encyclopedist Qazwīnī (died: 1283) and the Timurid Prince and astronomer  Ulugh Begin the star catalog of his astronomical handbook (epoch: 1437). For centuries, Arabic-Islamic astronomers followed the forms of the constellation figures as drawn in...

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Selected References

  1. Al-Ṣūfī, ҁAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ҁUmar (1986). Kitāb Ṣuwar al-Kawākib. Frankfurt am Main. (Facsimile of Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Marsh 144.)Google Scholar
  2. Kunitzsch, Paul (1986). “The Astronomer Abū ‘l-Ḥusayn al-Ṣūfī and His Book on the Constellations.” Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 3: 56–81. (Reprinted in Kunitzsch, The Arabs and the Stars, XI. Northampton: Variorum, 1989.)Google Scholar
  3. Kunitzsch, Paul (2008). “‘Abd al-Ṛahman al-Ṣufi”. The Encyclopaedia of Islam Three, 2008-1: 9–12. Leiden – Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  4. Schjellerup, H. C. F. C. (trans.) (1874). Description des étoiles fixes. St. Pétersbourg. (French translation of Ṣūfī’s text.); reprint Frankfurt am Main: Institut für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 1986.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MunichMunichGermany