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Medieval planetary diagram MS38

Location: Manuscript collection at the University library in Graz, Austria


Time: 12th century


Text: from Beda Venerabilis (De natura rerum, chapter XII)

"Inter terram celumque VII sidera pendent & certis discrepatus quae vocantur errantia....."

Below the diagram there are

  • the different meanings of the word vesper, and

  • explanations of the numerical values of the Greek alphabet.

Tabula astronomica; summarizes the astronomical knowledge of that time. It shows

  • 10 concentric circles with the signs of zodiac in the outmost circle and the planetary spheres in the inner circles, including the sphere of sun and moon,
  • comments on the respective planet, describing characteristic features of the planet, as shown for Saturn:
    "Summum Planetarum Saturni sidus est. natura. gelidum. XXX Annis Zodiacum id est signiferum peragit. Sicut & martis Stella C.L.X.X diebus lucet."
  • a cross of two orthogonal lines with the cardinal points at the endpoint of the lines, quartering the diagram into four parts,
  • a medieval world map (T and O map) in the centre with meridiens (the south) at the top of the map,
  • symbols for the planets, with human faces for sun and moon and rhombuses with rectangular-crossing lines for the planets,
  • dating the diagram due to the position of the planets, sun and moon gives the night of June 2 6to 27, 1154.


Max E. Lippitsch and Sonja Draxler: A medieval planetary diagram in the Graz University library, Journal for the History of Astronomy 43 (2012)

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