Antique Map of the Stars in the Southern Sky
Large and highly detailed depiction of the Southern Celestial Hemisphere, based upon Johann Elert Bode's map dated 1787. We believe this edition was published by J.J. Glassbach.
Bode's chart illustrates the constellations in figures according to classical mythology, as well as 18th-century additions created by Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille such as The Sculptor's Workshop and The Pneumatic Pump, which was derived from a recent invention by Robert Boyle.
German astronomer Johann Elert Bode was the astronomer of the Academy of Science in Berlin and director of the Berlin Observatory. Uranographia was his most noted contribution to astronomy, contained 18 celestial maps of constellations, stars, and nebulae. Over17,000 stars (12,000 more than had appeared in earlier charts), 2,500 nebulae (which had been catalogued in the late 1700s by William Herschel), and the constellations delineated over the past three centuries were depicted with attention to accuracy. He also included original constellation designs based on scientific instruments, including a tribute to Herschel called Herschel's Telescope, as well as reinterpretations of the traditional constellations that diverged from conventional depictions.
After Bode, major celestial atlases became less artistic and more utilitarian, dispensing with pictorial representations of constellation figures and replacing them with lines that defined their boundaries. Bode is also known for devising a formula to express the relative distances of the planets in our solar system from the sun, which is known as Bode's Law.
Johann Elert Bode (1747-1826) was born in Hamburg. His first publication was on the solar eclipse, August 5, 1766. This was followed by an elementary treatise on astronomy entitled Anleitung zur Kenntniss des gestirnten Himmels, the success of which led to his being summoned to Berlin in 1772 for the purpose of computing ephemerides on an improved plan. In 1774, Bode started the well-known Astronomisches Jahrbuch, a journal which ran to 51 yearly volumes.
Bode became director of the Berlin Observatory in 1786, where he remained until 1825. There he published the Uranographia in 1801, a celestial atlas that aimed both at scientific accuracy in showing the positions of stars and other astronomical objects, as well as the artistic interpretation of the stellar constellation figures. The Uranographia marks the climax of an epoch of artistic representation of the constellations. Later atlases showed fewer and fewer elaborate figures until they were no longer printed on such tables.
Bode also published a small star atlas, intended for astronomical amateurs (Vorstellung der Gestirne). He is credited with the discovery of Bode's Galaxy (M81). Comet Bode (C/1779 A1) is named after him; its orbit was calculated by Erik Prosperin. From 1787 to 1825 Bode was director of the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut. In 1794, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In April, 1789 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.