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Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi ( ; December 7, 903 – May 25, 986) was a Persian astronomer also known as Abd ar-Rahman as-Sufi, or Abd al-Rahman Abu al-Husayn, Abdul Rahman Sufi, Abdurrahman Sufi and known in the west as Azophi; the lunar crater Azophimarker and the minor planet 12621 Alsufi are named after him. Al-Sufi published his famous Book of Fixed Stars in 964, describing much of his work, both in textual descriptions and pictures.


He lived at the court of Emir Adud ad-Daula in Isfahanmarker, Persiamarker, and worked on translating and expanding Greek astronomical works, especially the Almagest of Ptolemy. He contributed several corrections to Ptolemy's star list and did his own brightness and magnitude estimates which frequently deviated from those in Ptolemy's work.

He was a major translator into Arabic of the Hellenistic astronomy that had been centred in Alexandriamarker, the first to attempt to relate the Greek with the traditional Arabic star names and constellations, which were completely unrelated and overlapped in complicated ways.


He identified the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is visible from Yemenmarker, though not from Isfahan; it was not seen by Europeans until Magellan's voyage in the 16th century. He also made the earliest recorded observation of the Andromeda Galaxy in 964 AD; describing it as a "small cloud".

He observed that the ecliptic plane is inclined with respect to the celestial equator and more accurately calculated the length of the tropical year. He observed and described the stars, their positions, their magnitude and their colour, setting out his results constellation by constellation. For each constellation, he provided two drawings, one from the outside of a celestial globe, and the other from the inside (as seen from the earth).

Al-Sufi also wrote about the astrolabe, finding numerous additional uses for it : he described over 1000 different uses, in areas as diverse as astronomy, astrology, horoscope, navigation, surveying, timekeeping, Qibla, Salah prayer, etc.

Sufi Observing Competition

Since 2006, Astronomy Society of Iran – Amateur Committee (ASIAC) hold an international Sufi Observing Competition in the memory of Sufi. The first competition was held in 2006 in the north of Semnan Province and the 2nd moe observing competition was held in summer of 2008 in Ladiz near the Zahedan.More than 100 observers from Iran and Iraq participated in this event.

See also




  • Mitton, Jacqueline (2007). Cambridge Illustrated Dictionary of Astronomy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-82364-7

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