• Coronelli, Celestial Globe Gores

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    Coronelli, a Franciscan theologian and astronomer who worked in both Italy and France, was a founder of modern geography and an influential maker of celestial and terrestrial globes. Makers of globes printed sheets of map sections, called gores, which were then hand-colored, cut out and glued onto a wood and paper-maché base. 

    These 9 gores were part of a set of 24 produced at the request of Coronelli’s Accademia Cosmografica to make a 3.5 foot diameter celestial globe. They were designed by Arnold Deuvez and engraved by Jean-Baptiste Nolin in Paris. The set was a reprint of gores which Coronelli printed in Venice in 1688. At the time, Coronelli’s 1688 globe was the largest and most accurate printed celestial globe. The Latin and French legends distinguish this 1693 Paris reprint from the 1688 originals, which were in Italian.

    These gores are reprints made in 1800 using the original 1693 plates.

    In the Epitome Cosmographica, Coronelli explained how to use celestial and terrestrial globes and his techniques for constructing them. The Epitome describes how Coronelli famously constructed a pair of terrestrial and celestial globes for Louis XIV which measured more than 12 feet in diameter. 

  • Bode, Uranographia

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    This magnificent atlas fused artistic beauty and scientific precision. Bode, director of the Observatory of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, produced the last of the four major celestial atlases in which artful depictions of constellation figures appear alongside the most up-to-date scientific data. 

    20 large copperplate engravings plot more than 17,000 stars, far more than any previous atlas. Bode included new stars for the southern hemisphere, along with constellations recently invented by Hevelius and Lacaille. 

    Bode depicted more than 100 constellations, compared with 88 officially recognized today. Some which appeared in this atlas for the first time, but are not officially recognized today, include the Cat, the Printing Press, the Montgolfier Balloon, and the Electric Generator. 

    Bode also included 2,500 cloudy patches, or “nebula,” cataloged by William Herschel.

    Planispheres

    Bode included two planisphere plates.  They are not southern and northern hemispheres; each one has Polaris at the top and the south pole at the bottom.  Each one is centered upon an equinox point (where the ecliptic or path of the Sun and the celestial equator intersect).  The March equinox point was in Aries in antiquity; by Bode’s time, due to the precession of the equinoxes, it had shifted to Pisces.  The September equinox point was in Libra in antiquity; by Bode’s time it had shifted to Virgo.  Bode titled the plates as the Aries and Libra planispheres. 

    The Aries planisphere, centered on the March equinox in Pisces, includes these constellations, among others, which appear high overhead in the night skies of autumn:  

    • Equatorial:  Orion, Taurus, Harpa Georgii, Cetus, Aries, Pisces, Pegasus, Aquarius, Aquila, Scutum.
    • Northern:  Auriga, Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Draco, Honores Frederici, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra.
    • Southern:  Eridanus, Apparatus Chemicus, Machina Electrica, Apparatus Sculptoris, Horologium, Toucan, Phoenix, Grus, Indus, Pavo, Tubus Astronomicus, Octans Nautica, Microscopium, Sagittarius, Globus Aerostatic.

    In March, the Aries-Pisces equinox (the center of the Aries planisphere) is traveling with the Sun, rising in the east in the mornings and setting in the west in the evenings.  Imagine the center of the planisphere has the Sun pinned to it for that day, and that’s how it would move across the sky.  Therefore the constellations near the center of this planisphere are invisible in the daytime sky at that time.

    The Libra planisphere, centered on the September equinox in Virgo, includes these constellations, among others, which appear high overhead in the night skies of spring:

    • Equatorial:  Ophiuchus, Serpens, Libra, Virgo, Crater, Corvis, Hydra, Sextans, Leo, Cancer, Monoceros.
    • Northern:  Hercules, Quadrans Muralis, Bootes, Canes Venatici, Ursa Major, Telescopium Herschelii, Gemini, Lynx, Ursa Minor.
    • Southern:  Scorpius, Tubus Astronomicus, Lupus, Centaurus, Apis, Chameleon, Crux, Argo Navis, Robur Caroli II, Circinus (sector compass), Canis Major, Pixis Nautica (magnetic compass), Machina Pneumatica (air pump), Officina Typographica (printing press).

    In September, the Libra-Virgo equinox (the center of the Libra plate) is traveling with the Sun, rising in the east in the morning and setting in the west in the evening.  Imagine the center of the planisphere has the Sun pinned to it for that day, and that’s how it would move across the sky.  Therefore the constellations near the center of this planisphere are invisible in the daytime sky at that time.

    Earlier, in 1782, Bode published a small-format atlas based on a Paris edition of Flamsteed.

    The four great celestial atlases of Bayer, Hevelius, Flamsteed and Bode were each distinctive in their artistic style as well in their scientific importance. After Bode, this fusion of art and science in celestial atlases ceased, as scientific atlases no longer held room to include artistic constellation figures.

  • Urania’s Mirror

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    Constellation figures, as in this boxed set of 32 constellation cards, make learning the constellation names memorable.  Each card illustrates one or a few constellations. Holes punched in the positions of bright stars allow one to hold any card up to a light and compare the star pattern with the constellation figure.  Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, appears on the cover of the box.   

    The 66 constellations include several no longer recognized today. 

    This is the first edition; subsequent editions include stars outside the boundaries of the featured constellations.

    The creator of the cards remains a mystery.  In a companion book providing a simple introduction to the night sky, Jehoshaphat Aspin explains only that the constellation cards “were designed by a lady.”  (Jehoshaphat Aspin, A Familiar Treatise on Astronomy (London 1825), 2d ed.)

    The constellation figures are based upon the Celestial Atlas of Alexander Jamieson, published in 1822. 

  • Saulnier, Égypte

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    This book lay at the center of a story combining ancient astronomy, intrigue, thievery, French nationalism, Egyptian archaeology, politics, and science and religion. In 1820, Saulnier commissioned a master stonemason to travel to the ancient Egyptian Temple of Dendera where a famous ceiling depicted the zodiac.  The mason removed the ceiling under the nose of Egyptian officials and smuggled it back to France.  The snatching of the zodiac ceiling, or Dendera Affair, was Europeʼs most sensational archaeological event for that generation.