The Royal Astronomical Society offers its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Professor Shaikh Mohammad Razaullah Ansari, who has died at the age of 90.
Prof. Ansari was a well-known historian of science, physicist, astronomer and author from India. Born in Delhi, he completed his first and master’s degrees there, before moving to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Bonn, Germany) in 1959, where he worked at the Institute of Theoretical Physics and then Eberhard Karl University at Tübingen (Germany), where he completed his D.Sc. in Mathematical Physics.
In 1969, he joined Aligarh Muslim University in India and established an astrophysics research group. His own work covered solar physics, the interstellar medium and the history of astronomy, authoring and editing books on topics including the Persian polymath Qotb al-Din Shirazi. Prof. Ansari was elected a Fellow of the RAS in 1972 and joined the International Astronomical Union (IAU the following year. He became vice-president and then president of the IAU Commission for the History of Astronomy in the 1990s, the first Indian to hold these roles.
RAS President Professor Mike Edmunds said: “We have lost a very able historian of astronomy. He will be remembered for his part in the historical activities of the International Astronomical Union, and his leading role in both the Commission on the History of Science and Technology in Islamic Societies, and the Commission for the History of Ancient and Medieval Astronomy.”