Constellations from Great Celestial Atlases
from the Linda Hall Library exbition
Out of This World: The Golden Age of the Celestial Atlas .
The images are free for non-commercial use with credit given.
Bayer, Johann. Uranometria. Augsburg, 1603.
The most famous sky atlas of them all.
The engravings are real star maps with positions from Tycho Brahe's
catalogue of 1602: far more accurate than the ancient catalogue of Ptolemy.
Bayer assigned Greek letters to the stars in a constellation in order
of brightness: alpha, beta, gamma, etc. A system which is still in use
- Toucan, Grus, & Phoenix Bayer
assigned some new southern hemisphere constellations. The Toucan, Grus,
and Phoenix were retained anyway.
- Andromeda with her table
of data on the reverse page showing through. Compare Bayer's Andromeda
with schematic lines.
The 2nd star going up on Andromeda's chain seems to be the Andromeda galaxy
Cellarius' Harmonia macrocosmica
Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica. Amsterdam, 1661.
- The Northern Sky
This is a planisphere: a spherical map projected flat.
Gryraffe is the modern Camelopardalis I guess.
Flamstead's Atlas celeste revised
- Orion & Taurus
Flamsteed, John. Atlas celeste. Ed. J. Fortin. Paris, 1776.
J. Fortin was an engraver and globe maker who greatly improved on
the aesthetic qualities of atlas of John Flamstead (1646--1719),
the first Astronomer Royal and Greenwich Observatory astronomer.
Compare Flamstead's Orion and Taurus with Naoyuki Kurita's photos of
- Orion & Taurus
Flamsteed, John. Atlas celeste. "Troisieme edition." (Lalande edition)
Note that new constellations have been inserted: the ``Telescope of
Herschel'' in honor of William Herschel the discoverer of Uranus;
the ``Harp of George'' in honor of maybe George III---actually it
doesn't seem likely that a king would find honor in Paris in
1795---maybe it's George Washington's harp: I never knew he
- Aquila (the Eagle) and Antinous et al.
For the most part the constellations of Ptolemy have been retained, but
Antinous has vanished. Antinous was the young friend of the
Roman emperor Hadrian. He died in 130 AD and Hadrian had him deified.
Probably to honor the Emperor, Ptolemy (circa 100--175) put Antinous in
the sky under the wings of the ``Roman'' Eagle.
Compare Flamstead's Aquila to the
Naoyuki Kurita's Aquila photo.
Grotius' The Aratea
Aratus Solensis. Hug. Grotii Syntagma Arataeorum. Leiden, 1600.
The Artea of Hugo Grotius.
Hevelius' Firmamentum Sobiescianum
Hevelius, Johannes. Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia. Gdansk,
Hevelius was also one of the great observational astronomers of the
17th century. Gdansk is Danzig in German, of course.
His sky maps are reversed from the geocentric view: with themyou are
looking in on the
Since the constellations only have meaning from the Earth's perspective, this
is a ridiculous convention.
- Auriga, the Charioteer
- Toucan, Grus, and Phoenix
This is a more accurate southern hemisphere than Bayer's with Toucan, etc.
- Scutum Sobiescanum This
is the modern Scutum. Hevelius invented this constellation to
honor the Polish King John III Sobiesky who repulsed a Turkish invasion 1673.
Lahire's Planisphere celeste septentrional
LaHire, Philippe. Planisphere celeste septentrional [-meridional]. Paris, 1705.
- Perseus et al.
Le Chartier is Auriga (the Charioteer): ah le francais est une langue tres
belle, n'est pas.
Kepler's De stella nova in pede serpentarii
Kepler, Johannes. De stella nova in pede serpentarii. Prague, 1606.
- Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer
Kepler's map was published to show the position of a nova (new star) marked
by N. This was, in fact, a Galactic supernova that occurred in 1604.
It is the last Galactic supernova seen. There almost certainly have been
Although Ophiuchus is not in a constellation of
the Zodiac , his feet extend
down to the Ecliptic and
a triple conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn coincided with the Nova.
Kepler in his astrologer mode was probably deeply impressed.
Compare Kepler's Ophiuchus to the
Naoyuki Kurita's Ophiuchus photo.
Kepler has north to the left and the photo has north upward.
- Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer
A detail of the Nova region.
Pardies' Globi coelestis
Pardies, Ignace-Gaston. Globi coelestis. Paris, 1674.
- Ophiuchs or Serpentarius
Ptolemy's star catalogue
- A page of Ptolemy's star catalogue
This is from a 1515 Venice publication, but the catalogue goes back to Ptolemy
in the 2nd century BC and the stars were mainly drawn from older catalogues.
Star maps are based on catalogue positions.
Schiller's Coelum stellatum Christianum
Schiller, Julius. Coelum stellatum Christianum. Augsburg, 1627.
Schiller replaced the traditional constellations by Christian ones.
The Zodiac constellations became the Twelve Apostles for instance.
- Noah's Ark
The ancient and now obsolete constellation Argo became Noah's Ark
in Schiller's atlas.
Semler's Coelum stellatum
Semler, Christoph. Coelum stellatum. Magdeburg, 1731.
- Centaurus killing Lupus and
the Southern Cross Interesting because the background is black---so
sort of night-sky-like.