Astrolabe Glossary and Notes

Ptolemy, Claudius

Claudius Ptolemy (c. 85 B.C. - c. 165 A.D.) was a Greek astronomer who lived and worked in Alexandria, Egypt. Although he wrote extensively on the various mathematical sciences, including harmony, music and analema, he is most famous for his works on astronomy, astrology and geography.

His work on astronomy, the Almagest, a name it adopted from its Arabic translation (the Greek title is Τάδε ἔνεστιν ἐν τῷ πρώτῳ τῆς Πτολεμαίου μαθηματικῆς συντάξεως) is the most detailed work on mathematical astronomy from antiquity. Although largely based on the work of Hipparchus, the Almagest codified the geo-static model of the solar system that came to bear Ptolemy's name.

Ptolemy also wrote the astrological Tetrabiblos (in Greek, ΚΛΑΥΔΙΟΥ ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ ΤΩΝ ΠΡΟΣ ΣΥΡΟΝ ΑΠΟΤΕΛΕΣΜΑΤΙΚΩΝ), which became the authoritative source on astrology until the sixteenth century.

Finally, his Geography, which was largely lost to the Latin West until the fifteenth century, provided a rational method for mapping the known world and extending that map to incorporate newly discovered lands.

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