Suwar al-Kawakib al-Thabitah (‘Book of Fixed Stars’)

This treatise, by a court astronomer in Iran, was the most important guide to constellation forms in the Islamic world. Al-Sufi represented the classical constellations according to the observer’s viewpoint. Thus, very constellation is illustrated with two drawings: one as seen in the sky by an observer on earth, and one in mirror-image as it appears on a celestial globe. Al-Sufi also described the constellations used in pre-Islamic Arabia and related them to their classical Greek counterparts.

The first image shown here is the constellation of the serpent and serpent-bearer, as it appears on a celestial globe. The black dots with red writing trace the serpent, the red dots with black writing the serpent-bearer.

See more images of the ‘Book of Fixed Stars’.

This Treasure isn’t currently on display in the Weston Library.