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

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BornRayy (near Tehran, Iran), 903

Died986

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 Beg in the star catalog of his astronomical handbook (epoch: 1437). For centuries, Arabic–Islamic astronomers followed the forms of th ...