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Description

Striking example of this celestial chart illustration of Claudius Ptolemy's model of the Universe, a model of the solar system with the earth at the center, from the 1708 Valk & Schenk edition of Andreas Cellarius's Harmonia Macrocosmica seu Atlas Universalis et Novus.

This plate shows a two-dimensional representation of the Ptolemaic model, showing a geocentric concept of the universe with concentric circles of the moon, the sun, the planets, and finally the stars radiating outwards. The map is centered on the world, projected from the north pole and showing California as an island. The ecliptic line (showing the zodiac) is projected here. The planets, which revolve around the Earth, are themselves represented as Roman gods and goddesses circling the Earth on a chariot. The signs of the zodiac again appear in the outermost of the charts.

This is not a complete representation of the Ptolemaic model: Ptolemy accounts for the changing distances between the Earth and planets by suggesting that each celestial body (with the exception of extrasolar stars) rotates around a point (termed the epicycle), and it is this point that rotates around the Earth.

Andreas Cellarius Biography

Andreas Cellarius was born in 1596 in Neuhausen and educated in Heidelberg. He emigrated to Holland in the early 17th century, and in 1637 moved to Hoorn, where he became the rector of the Latin School. Cellarius' best-known work is his Harmonia Macrocosmica, first issued in 1660 by Jan Jansson, as a supplement to Jansson's Atlas Novus. The work consists of a series of Celestial Charts begun by Cellarius in 1647 and intended as part of a two-volume treatise on cosmography, which was never issued.