Famous People in Astronomy

By Spencer Ezzell

Abd Al-Rahman Al Sufi

Al Sufi was born on December 9th 903 AD in Rey, Iran and died on May 25 986. He was a Persian astronomer and is known in the west as Azophi. He was alive during the times of translating Ancient Greek astronomical signs especially that of Ptolemy.


Al Sufi was one of 9 famous Muslim astronomers. During his stay at the Court of Emir, he corrected many of Ptolemy's star list and conducted his own brightness and magnitude work which also differed from Ptolemy's. He was a major translator into Arabic and helped to relate Greek star names with Arabic ones even though they were unrelated. Near the end of his life in 964, he published his most famous "Book of Fixed Stars" which described a majority of his life's work through pictures and stories.
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Discoveries and Contributions

Al Sufi is most noted for his contributions to early astronomy, and because of them, the lunar crater Azophi is named after him, and the minor planet 12621 Alsufi is as well. He published his most famous work "Book of Fixed Stars" in 964 in which he also carried out his work on the ecliptic in Shiraz. He is well recognized for the earliest recorded observation of the Andromeda Galaxy in 964 describing it as a "small cloud." These were the first galaxies to be observed from Earth other than the Milky Way. He observed that the ecliptic plane is inclined with respect to the celestial equator and calculated the length of the tropical year. He very well described stars and their positions as well as their colors and magnitudes. For every constellation, he drew two pictures one from inside the celestial globe and one from outside. He also wrote about the 1,000 different uses of the astrolabe.

Currently, we use Al Sufi's information about stars to help us find things currently in our galaxy. His findings have not only affected past and modern astronomy, but also astronomy for years to come. His extensive drawings of constellations and observations of the ecliptic plane have really changed modern astronomy. Al Sufi was one of only 9 Muslim astronomers, which is encouragement to young men and women everywhere to follow their dreams and they can become as successful as Sufi. He has a planet and lunar crater named after him which shows the potential success if you focus and push through.


Al Sufi (903-986 AD)." Al Sufi (903-986 AD). N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2016. <http://messier.seds.org/xtra/Bios/alsufi.html>.

"Al-Sufi, Abd Al-Rahman (AD 903–986)." Al-Sufi, Abd Al-Rahman (AD 903-986). N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2016. <http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/A/Al-Sufi.html>.

"The Constellations." WDL RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2016. <http://www.wdl.org/en/item/2484/>.