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Andreas Cellarius: Theoriatrium Superiorum Planetarum

Map: CELEST1340
 
Cartographer: Andreas Cellarius
Title: Theoriatrium Superiorum Planetarum
Date: 1661
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 21 inches / 54 cm
Height: 18 inches / 46 cm
Map ref: CELEST1340
Description:
Splendid example of Cellarius's celestial diagram illustrating the theory of planetary motion as it was understood by Tycho Brahe and other 17th century astronomers. A generic planet is shown to be following a circular orbit around the Earth (located at the centre of the page), but the Earth is not the central point of the orbit. This idea that the circular orbits of the planetary bodies, including the Sun, the Moon, and the planets, were not centred on the Earth was known as eccentricity. The same word is now used to describe how elliptical an orbit is, but Johannes Kepler's theory of elliptical orbits (published 1609-19) had not yet been accepted by the European scientific community in the 1660s.

Along its eccentric orbit, the planetary bodies were also believed to travel in epicycles, smaller circular orbits. The theories of orbital eccentricity and epicylcles helped to explain why the Sun, the Moon, and the planets were occasionally seen to be stationary or even moving in reverse, relative to the Earth. It also explained why the distance of these bodies from the Earth changed during the year even though Ptolemaic and even Copernican theory assumed the orbits to be perfect circles.

In typical Cellarius fashion, the margins are filled with glorious Rococo decoration, including purple clouds and winged putti. There are also two smaller diagrams explaining the motion Moon in relation to the Earth. The colourful ring surrounding the diagram shows the 12 constellations of the Zodiac.

Andreas Cellarius's celestial charts are some of the most decorative ever published and are highly sought-after for their combination of Dutch Golden age beauty and their scientific content. These maps were published at a time when the classical cosmologies of the ancient Greeks were at last being challenged by the new, emerging theories of contemporary scholars, such as Tycho Brahe and Nicolaus Copernicus. To find out more about Andreas Cellarius's maps, read our extended blog post - "Finding our place in the Universe" - on The Map House blog.

Rich original hand colour. [CELEST1340]