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Nicolas & Guillaume Sanson: Figure des Tourbillons Celestes

Map: tempMid
Cartographer: Nicolas & Guillaume Sanson
Title: Figure des Tourbillons Celestes
Date: 1700
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 7 inches / 18 cm
Height: 8 inches / 21 cm
Map ref: CELEST1072
Fascinating celestial diagram explaining Rene Descartes' vortex theory of planetary motion in which the universe is composed of fixed stars suspended in a fluid-like substance.

According to the theory, the pull of each star caused the 'liquid' to rotate thus creating a vortex, much like a whirlpool at sea. The circular movement of this 'liquid' would then carried the planets along in their orbits like flotsam in a current.

Cleverly this allowed Descartes to support Copernicus' theory that the Earth was in motion without directly contradicting the Catholic Church as it was the heavens that were moving and pulling the Earth along with them rather than the Earth moving itself.

Descartes' reasoning also led him to hypothesize that all of the stars in the sky might have planets of their own, a completely revolutionary concept! And, while he himself never stated that life might exist on these other planets, as that would directly go against Church teachings, some of his followers did propose such theories.

Original hand colour. [CELEST1072]