Astrolabes in Medieval Cultures

24 - 25 April 2014

Organised by: Josefina Rodriguez-Arribas and Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute) and Stephen Johnston (Oxford Museum for the History of Science)

Venue: The Warburg Institute (for directions click here)
Click here to download the poster

The topics covered by this conference will be the astrolabe itself, texts on the construction and use of the instrument, and the position of the astrolabe in pre-modern cultures and societies (Islam and India, Jewish societies and medieval and Renaissance Europe).

Speakers will include: Silke Ackermann (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford), Emilia Calvo (Barcelona), Laura Fernandez Fernandez (Complutense Madrid), Miquel Forcada (Barcelona), Stephen Johnston (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford), Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma (Düsseldorf), Josefina Rodríguez Arribas (Warburg Institute), Petra Schmidl (Bonn), Johannes Thomann (Zürich), Flora Vafea (Cairo) and Koenraad van Cleepoel (Hasset)


Attendance is free of charge, but pre-registration is required by emailing: jane.ferguson(at) giving your name, email address, and the name of your institution (if relevant).

The conference will last 1.5 days. Please note that on day 2 we provide a sandwich lunch with meat and vegetarian options.



Thursday, 24 April 2014

1.30 Registration

Chair: Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute)

2.00 Welcome

2.15 Silke Ackermann (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford): All the Astrolabes - An AHRC Project in Context

3.00 Stephen Johnston (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford): Construction and Use: A Museum Perspective on Astrolabe Writing

3.45 Tea break

4.15 Johannes Thomann (Universität Zürich): Astrolabes as Eclipse Computers: Arabic Texts on the Construction and Use of the afīa kusūfiyya

5.00 Josefina Rodríguez Arribas (Warburg Institute): Bonetus de Latis and his Astrolabe Ring

5.45 Arié Kiselstein (Private Scholar), Silke Ackermann and Stephen Johnston (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford): Practical demonstration of the use of an astrolabe

6.30 – 7.30 Wine reception

7.30 Dinner (for invited guests)

Friday, 25 April 2014

10.00 Doors open

10.15 Emilia Calvo (Universidad de Barcelona): The Old Castilian Alfonsine Translation of ‘Alī b. Khalaf’s Universal Plate

11.00 Coffee break

11.30 Flora Vafea (Independent scholar, Cairo/Athens): From the Celestial Globe to the Astrolabe: Transferring the Celestial Motion onto the Plane of the Astrolabe

12.15 Petra Schmidl (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn):

Comparing Astrolabes: The Problems of Dating and Locating a Medieval European Example and a Theoretical Solution

1.00 Lunch

2.15 Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma (Emeritus Professor, Aligarh Muslim University and Düsseldorf): Reworking of Arabic-Persian Astrolabes with Sanskrit Legends

3.00 Miquel Forcada (Universidad de Barcelona): Reactions to 11th century Toledan Astronomy in al-Andalus

3.45 Tea break

4.15 Laura Fernandez Fernandez (Universidad Complutense de Madrid): Astrolabes on Parchment: The Astrolabes Depicted in Alfonso X’s Libro del saber de astrología and their Relationship to Contemporary Instruments

5.00 Koenraad Van Cleempoel (Universiteit Hasset): Two Medieval French Astrolabes with a Gear Mechanism

5.45 Conclusions

6.30 End of conference