Institutional Affiliation :
University of California, Riverside
Tofigh Heidarzadeh received his MA in History of Science from Istanbul University in 1997, focusing on medieval astronomy, especially astronomy at the Samarqand Observatory. In 2005 he received his PhD in History of Science from the University of Oklahoma, concentrating on the history of post-Copernican astronomy. Since 2006 he has been lecturing courses about the Scientific Revolution, development of modern science, and history of technology at the University of California, Riverside. He has been appointed as the educator of history of science at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens since 2009.
Heidarzadeh is the author of a book on the history of physical theories of comets, several journal articles, and numerous conference papers on history of science. From 1985 to 1991 he served as the editor of Daneshmand, the oldest popular-science magazine in Iran. In 1991 he was the founder editor of Nojum, the first magazine in Iran (and in the Middle East) devoted to popularization of observational and theoretical astronomy. He served as the editor-in-chief of Nojum until 1997.At the present he is involved in two major studies on the history of modern physical astronomy, and the introduction of modern science in Iran. He is also interested in the history of scientific exchanges between cultures.
In the post-Islamic era, the tradition of writing astronomical textbooks in Persian started from Bīrūnī’s Kitāb al-tafhīm (early 11th century) to provide basic concepts for those who were either not practiced in astronomy or were not skillful in Arabic – the standard language of madrasas. Therefore, the majority of Persian astronomical textbooks are dealing with elementary astronomy or are summaries of technical texts such as the Almagest. The concepts they cover, the methods of their presentation, the level of their simplification, and even the size of each work not only reflect the authors’ approaches to astronomy in general, but can also display what aspects of astronomy were more emphasized in different periods, and what combination of astronomical concepts were considered essential to learn first.