The depictions in this celestial atlas are captivating even today, because of their attention to detail.
It is therefore not surprising that many of the depictions are reproduced on pictures, posters and puzzles. However, these popular illustrations are taken from the second edition of the work, which was also printed in Amsterdam in 1708 and is now in the library of the Deutsches Museum in Munich. The second edition lacks the extensive text section of the first edition.
The Egyptians created the first accurate images of the constellations long before our era as we know from burial objects in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian official Senenmut from the middle of the second millennium BC. There are even older depictions of the sky and the stars from our own cultural area, such as the Nebra sky disc from the early Bronze Age, although in this case the arrangement of the stars was more random and designed to satisfy artistic criteria. The ancient Greeks systematised their knowledge of the heavenly bodies, but most of their knowledge was lost in the Middle Ages.
In the 16th century, the invention of printing made it possible to produce planispheres (central projections of the celestial sphere onto a flat surface) and to reproduce them. The celestial atlas created by Andreas Cellarius (ca. 1596-1665) is one of the most artistically important works from this period. He was a German astronomer who was rector of the Latin school in the Dutch city of Hoorn from 1637 until his death. Being a seafaring nation, the Netherlands had a long tradition of producing accurate maps and globes.
In 1660, the Dutch cartographer Johannes Jannsonius (1588-1664) published a work entitled “Harmonia Macrocosmica” (which also became known as the “Cellarius Sky Atlas”) in his Amsterdam publishing house that was known for its cartographic works. Jannsonius continued a project that Gerhard Mercator (1512-1594) had begun, followed by Henricus Hondius II (1597-1650), to create a multi-volume "Novus Atlas". He published Andreas Cellarius' celestial atlas as the seventh volume in this project.
Even if it is inferior in terms of detail to other celestial atlases of its time, the Cellarius Sky Atlas impresses with its artistic design. It contains 29 large-format, double-page copperplate engravings. Most of them show the world view of the ancient mathematician and geographer Claudius Ptolemy (2nd century AD). However, some show the world view of more modern researchers, such as Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) and Tycho Brahe (1546-1601).
A further eight coloured plates, also double pages, show the development of the astronomical view of the northern and southern night skies: six show the ancient views and the remaining two show now forgotten Christian constellations introduced by the Dutch theologian Petrus Plancius (1552-1622).
52 x 33,5 cm
Genuine leather binding with rich gold embossing and an all-round gold edging with hallmarks.
Our facsimile edition
Our facsimile edition measures 52 x 33.5 cm and is based on the 66-folio copy of the Harmonia Macrocosmica in the Universitäts- & Landesbibliothek in Darmstadt (Sign.gr.Fol.3/497a) from 1660. An audio pen is included with the delivery so that you can experience a facsimile for the first time using an audio pen. It is a world first in this respect! Its binding is made of real leather and is decorated with pure gold embossing.