Άbdul-Ra\(\d{h}\)mān al-Şūfī and His Book of the Fixed Stars: A Journey of Re-discovery

  • Ihsan HafezEmail author
  • F. Richard Stephenson
  • Wayne Orchiston
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings book series (ASSSP)


The Book of the Fixed Stars was written by the Persian astronomer Άbdul-Ram\(\d{h}\)ān al-Şūfī around AD 964, and is one of the most important medieval Arabic treatises on astronomy. al-Şūfī’s work contains an extensive star catalog as well as detailed star charts for the 48 classical constellations, and draws on material in Ptolemy’s Almagest. At present no English translation of al-Şūfī’s treatise exists. This paper summarizes a detailed study by the first author for a Ph.D. degree in the Centre of Astronomy at James Cook University (Townsville, Australia) which will include for the first time a complete English translation of the main parts of al-Şūfī’s major work.

This paper includes a brief biography of al-Şūfī, along with information on the extant manuscripts of the Book of the Fixed Stars, the structure of the book and star catalogue, and the star maps and charts. A major finding which we highlight in this paper is al-Şūfī’s stellar magnitude estimates which were based upon a unique three-step intermediate magnitude system that he developed. al-Şūfī also identified and commented on more than 100 new stars that were not listed in the Almagest or other early star catalogs. al-Şūfī’s contribution to astronomy reverberated throughout history, extending to recent times.


English Translation Magnitude Estimate Stellar Magnitude Arabic Text Introductory Chapter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Grateful acknowledgment is made to all the libraries and museums with al-Şūfī manuscripts for kindly permitting us to study and reproduce these for research purposes, but especially the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris and the British Library in London. We would also like to thank all those librarians and fellow researchers who helped and supported our work during the time we spent working on this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ihsan Hafez
    • 1
    Email author
  • F. Richard Stephenson
  • Wayne Orchiston
  1. 1.Centre for AstronomyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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