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Description

Striking full color example of Bayer's celestial chart of Pavo, with the stars heightened in gold, the first ever appearance of the constellation Pavo as a separate published image. The present example has no text on the verso.

Pavo is a constellation in the southern sky. Its name is Latin for peacock. It is one of twelve constellations created by Petrus Plancius from the observations of Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman and it first appeared on a 35-cm diameter celestial globe published in 1597 (or 1598) in Amsterdam by Plancius with Jodocus Hondius.

Bayer's Uranometria, is one of the most important celestial atlases of the 17th Century and the forerunner of all star atlases which contained 51 star charts, of which 48 were Ptolemaic constellations.

Each plate has a carefully engraved grid, so that star positions can be read off to fractions of a degree. These positions were taken from the catalog of Tycho Brahe. Brahe's catalog had circulated in manuscript in the 1590s, but was not published until 1602.

Another important feature of the Bayer's atlas was the introduction of a new system of stellar nomenclature. Bayer assigned Greek letters to the brighter stars, generally in the order of magnitude, so that the bright star in the Bull's eye became alpha Tauri (and the brightest star in the Centaur became our familiar alpha Centauri.) These letters were placed on the charts themselves, and also in a table that accompanied each chart. Bayer's charts are rarely offered separately on the market.