Astronomy and Astrology in the Medieval Islamic World: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Astronomy and Astrology in the Medieval Islamic World

1st Edition

By Edward S. Kennedy


368 pages

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Hardback: 9780860786825
pub: 1998-03-05
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This collection of studies by Edward Kennedy looks first at questions of spherical astronomy, celestial mapping and planetary models, and then deals with astrological calculations. Throughout the author emphasises the importance of advances in mathematics for understanding the development of medieval Arabic sciences. This collection of studies based on previously unexploited manuscript sources in Arabic and Persian. They were written by authors from the 9th through the 15th centuries, whose locations reached from south China in the east through Central Asia, the Middle and Near East, and North Africa, to Spain in the west. The topics are predominately astronomical rather than astrological. The former include eclipse predictions, problems in spherical astronomy, non-ptolemaic planetary theory, and the achievements of Ulugh Beg and his observatory. Astrological subjects treated are the method of calculating the ascendant, and how to determine astrological houses and lots. An astrological history of the career of Genghis Khan is also described.


’…one cannot stress enough the utility of such collections of articles, especially in this case where some of them were either never published before or were published in such exotic places like Abu Dhabi.’ Zentralblatt für Mathematik, Vol. 954, No. 1005 ’…specialists will appreciate the careful, unembroidered style and the foundational work it represents.’ Bulletin of the Middle East Studies Association

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Astronomy: Habash al-Hasib on the melon astrolabe; Two topics from an astrological manuscript: Sindhind days and planetary latitudes; Al-Sufi on the celestial globe; Applied mathematics in the 10th century: Abu’ l-Wafa’ calculates the distance Baghdad-Mecca; Two mappings proposed by Biruni; The spherical case of the Tusi couple; Spherical astronomy in Kashi’s Khaqani Zij; Two medieval approaches to the equation of time; Ibn al-Haytham’s determination of the meridian from one solar altitude; Ulugh Beg as scientist; The heritage of Ulugh Beg; Planetary theory: late Islamic and Renaissance; Two tables from an Arabic astronomical handbook for the Mongol viceroy of Tibet; Eclipse predictions in Arabic astronomical tables prepared for the Mongol viceroy of Tibet; Astrology: Al-Biruni’s treatise on astrological lots; Ibn Mu’adh on the astrological houses; An astrological history based on the career of Genghis Khan; Treatise V of Kashi’s Khaqani Zij: determination of the ascendent; The astrological houses as defined by medieval Islamic astronomers; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General