February 06, 2004


Even though it has been posted already at metafilter, courtesy of the mighty plep, and has also been illustrated at dublog, and doubtless elsewhere, I couldn’t resist adorning this page with some images from the Harmonia Macrocosmica of Andreas Cellarius, which is on digital display at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott library’s website.

Plate no. 3 from 'Harmonia Macrocosmica', showing planetary orbits around the Earth, presumably illustrating Ptolemaic theory.


Plate no. 4 from 'Harmonia Macrocosmica', showing the planisphere of Copernicus, or Copernicus' hypothesis of the entire universe.

The Harmonia Macrocosmica is a sumptuously-produced celestial atlas that was printed in Amsterdam in 1661. One may guess that Cellarius was an open-minded fellow, as the hand-painted double-folio plates in his book variously illustrate not only the competing Ptolemaic (as in the first image above) and the Copernican (as in the second) theories, but also those of Tycho Brahe and Aratus.

Plate no. 19 from the 'Harmonia Macrocosmica', a Selenographic diagram of phases and appearances of the Moon.

As well as presenting his readers with a choice of cosmologies, Cellarius presents two versions of the constellations, the traditional ones drawn from classical mythology (as shown in the two images below), and recently-suggested Christian-themed constellations: it was supposed by some of Cellarius’ contemporaries that reforming the Heavens along Christian principles would have some positive benefit on the piety of those who gazed upon them from the Earth: ‘as above, so below.’

Plate no. 24 from the 'Harmonia Macrocosmica', showing the ancient northern constellations.


Plate no. 27 from the 'Harmonia Macrocosmica', showing the ancient southern constellations.

There is a little more info. about the Harmonia Macrocosmica here. Click on the images above to see enlarged versions of the same.

Posted by misteraitch at February 6, 2004 01:26 PM | TrackBack

Yes, this is a true treasure - I like the plates you have chosen for display. The scans are wonderfully high-quality, whyich makes it so easy for study; same goes for the text pages; a great read on the week-end!

Posted by: mademoiselle a. on February 7, 2004 06:33 PM

The quality of those images is superb!

Posted by: Zach on February 12, 2004 09:43 PM
Comments are now closed