Planisphere with constellations, 1540
Planisphere with constellations. This planisphere is from the astronomical atlas Astronomicum Caesareum (1540) by the German printer Petrus Apianus (1495-1552). This atlas was notable for its highly intricate wheel charts (volvelles), of which this planisphere is an example. A volvelle involves several layers of paper placed over each other, which are then rotated to produce the desired result. In this case, to show the appearance of the night sky for a given latitude, time and date. The constellations are represented by artworks of the mythical people and creatures for whom they are named. This view is centred on the Northern Celestial Pole, but extends into the southern hemisphere as well.
© Royal Astronomical Society/Science Photo Library
Homeric cosmogony. Map of the Earth based on the myths and knowledge of the Ancient Greeks at the time of Homer (1st or 2nd millennium BC). The map shows a flat Earth centred on Greece and the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by a 'River Ocean'. At night, the Sun passes from west to east behind a range of high mountains in the north ('region of the night'). To the south in North Africa, is the 'region of the day'. Other mythological references include the Elysian Fields, the island of the Cyclops, and the entrance to hell. Civilisations (historical and mythological) marked here include: Ethiopians, Libyans, Pygmies, Egyptians, Amazons, Phoenicians, Hyperboreans and Cimmerians. Places include: Thebes, Sparta, Troy, Thrace, Crete and Cyprus. Artwork from Pioneers of Science (Oliver Lodge, 1893).
© SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
1662 Schott Sea Monsters and mermaids
I 'Triton', II "Sea monster in the likeness of a monk", III " Sea man in the dress of a bishop", IV "Sea Satyr". Copperplate from Gaspar Schott's 'Physica Curiosa, sive mirabilia naturae.' Gaspar Schott was a Jesuit scholar (1608-1666). He worked with Athanasius Kircher in Rome before returning to Germany in 1655 where he was appointed professor of Mathematics at Augsburg. This work may have been inspired by unfinished elements of Kircher's work and draws together a remarkable array of the real and the imagined. Schott describes them all as real, the monkfish here seems derived from the likeness of a dried ray fish to a monk. The Bishop fish is a logical extension of the principle!. Many of Schott's images were ultimately derived from similar to be found in the 16th century works of Gessner.
© This image is copyright Paul D. Stewart 2009. Do not reproduce without permission of the photographer at Stewartpauld@aol.com.