Monday, January 16, 2006

Remixing the Firmament

Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687) from the Pomeranian area of Poland was a town counsellor, lawyer, brewer and a devotee of Tycho Brahe and astronomy. He was also trained as an artist/engraver.

He built a large observatory in his house and spent 4 years charting the lunar surface and the results were released as Selenographia (previously mentioned briefly here). Other works followed on comets and constellation maps.

His final great work, Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia, was published 4 years after his death by his wife. It includes some 52 engravings by Hevelius of constellations, including new observations which are still recognized today. The engravings are unusual in that they need to be reversed to fit onto starmaps. Hevelius had mapped the skies as an observer from the other side!

The images here (Perseus, Taurus, Serpens and Leo) are from a set produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute
(STScI)* in which they digitized an original copy of Uranographia and set about removing the stars and paper artifact, leaving only the original figures. They have so far posted about 1/2 of the original engravings.

  • Uranographia at HubbleSource (STScI) - the remix.
  • Digitized copy 1 of Uranographia at the Astronomical Observatory of Brera.
  • Digitized copy 2 of Uranographia at the wonderful Atlas Coelestis site.
  • Hevelius biography: I, II, III.
  • *The convolutions of administration:
    "We’re the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), established by NASA to operate the Hubble Space Telescope (and Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2010). We’re part of AURA, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, a research consortium that also operates Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, and the Gemini Observatories in Hawaii and Chile. We’re located on the grounds of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore."


    Gina E. said...

    Hello there, I found your blog through a link on Meggiecat's blog. BibliOdyssey is fantastic! I have only briefly perused it, but had added it to my favorites and will be back frequently for closer looks. Thank you!
    Gina in Melbourne, Australia

    peacay said...

    No worries mate!

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