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's Uranometria
    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 today.

  1. Taurus
  2. Toucan, Grus, & Phoenix Bayer assigned some new southern hemisphere constellations. The Toucan, Grus, and Phoenix were retained anyway.
  3. Andromeda with her table of data on the reverse page showing through. Compare Bayer's Andromeda to a Naoyuki Kurita's Andromeda photo with schematic lines. The 2nd star going up on Andromeda's chain seems to be the Andromeda galaxy (M31).

    Cellarius' Harmonia macrocosmica Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica. Amsterdam, 1661.

  4. The Northern Sky This is a planisphere: a spherical map projected flat. Gryraffe is the modern Camelopardalis I guess.

    Flamstead's Atlas celeste revised

  5. 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 and Taurus.
  6. Orion & Taurus Flamsteed, John. Atlas celeste. "Troisieme edition." (Lalande edition) Paris, 1795. 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 played.
  7. Aquila (the Eagle) and Antinous et al. For the most part the constellations of Ptolemy have been retained, but poor 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.

  8. Andromeda

    Hevelius' Firmamentum Sobiescianum
    Hevelius, Johannes. Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia. Gdansk, 1690.
    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 Celestial Sphere. Since the constellations only have meaning from the Earth's perspective, this is a ridiculous convention.

  9. Auriga, the Charioteer
  10. Toucan, Grus, and Phoenix This is a more accurate southern hemisphere than Bayer's with Toucan, etc.
  11. Capricorn
  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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 unobserved ones. 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.
  15. Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer A detail of the Nova region.

    Pardies' Globi coelestis
    Pardies, Ignace-Gaston. Globi coelestis. Paris, 1674.
  16. Ophiuchs or Serpentarius

    Ptolemy's star catalogue Venice 1515

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Centaurus killing Lupus and the Southern Cross Interesting because the background is black---so sort of night-sky-like.