The Smaller Fish
Star Name

The Smaller Fish

Part of the Two Fish celestial complex

السمكة الصغرى

Star Names

The Smaller Fish (as-samaka as-sughra)

The Smaller Fish is one of two fish in the Arabian stellar sea. The Smaller Fish is similar in appearance to the Great Fish (al-samaka al-‘azima).


The Smaller Fish (as-samaka as-sughra) as it appears in the east about an hour after sunset in mid-October.

The Smaller Fish (as-samaka as-sughra) as it appears in the east under dark skies about an hour after sunset in mid-October. Sky simulations made with Stellarium.

A bright yellow star located to the east of the Belly of the Great Fish (batn as-samaka). This star’s location would make it the Belly of the Smaller Fish, but this name is never used in the literature. The faint stars that circle through it form the rest of the Smaller Fish. It shape is formed by two chains of stars that emanate from its tail (the Double Cluster in Perseus) and extend to its mouth in modern-day Andromeda. The stars listed below have been identified as making up the outline of the Smaller Fish, but other stars along these chains were no doubt part of the picture.

Modern Identification

The Belly:
γ AND (Almach), double yellow star, magnitude 2.2, with magnitude 4.8 blue companion
The Fish:
τ AND, white star, magnitude 5.0
υ AND, yellow star, magnitude 4.1
χ AND, orange giant, magnitude 5.0
51 AND/υ PER, orange giant, magnitude 3.6
φ PER, blue-white eruptive variable star, magnitude 4.0
NGC 869/h PER (Double Cluster, with NGC 884), open star cluster, magnitude 4.3
NGC 884/χ PER (Double Cluster, with NGC 869), open star cluster, magnitude 4.4


The Smaller Fish rises shortly after the Great Fish and sets about 3 weeks after it. However, only the bright star Almach is visible through the pre-dawn sky glow. Ibn Qutayba (d. 879 CE) reported that the Great Fish was said to rise on the morning of April 4 and set on the morning of October 5. On account of the precession of the equinoxes, today we can expect to observe the belly star of the Smaller Fish setting in early December and rising at the beginning of April, as seen from the latitude of Tucson. (See How to Observe on the About page for more on this topic.)

Rain Stars

The Smaller Fish does not figure among the rain stars.

Lunar Stations

The Smaller Fish is not one of the lunar stations.

 Related Stars and Celestial Complexes

The Smaller Fish is part of the Two Fish (as-samakatan, السمكتان) folkloric celestial complex. The other fish of the pair is the Great Fish (as-samaka al-‘azima, السمكة العظيمة).

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