exhibit home | contents | about | lhl home | lhl digital    
Section 3: The Sun Takes Center Stage
The Copernican system retained the sphere of the fixed stars when it was presented in 1543, and for that reason supporters of both the sun-centered universe and the earth-centered cosmos visualized the stars in their appointed outermost sphere. Athanasius Kircher, for example, compared six models of the universe in 1660, all displaying the starry border. The lavish work by Andreas Cellarius, full of oversized hand-colored copperplate engravings, includes a spectacular view of the Copernican system encircled by the zodiac. Not apparent in these images is the revolution of the earth which replaced the motion of the stellar orb.
Above, left to right from top:

* In his Phisica Sacra, 1734, Johannes Scheuzer presents the solar system with the zodiac as the sphere of stars. This illustration includes vignettes from Fontenelle and Huygens.

* A comparison of the universal systems of Plato, Ptolemy, Brahe, and Copernicus in Athanasius Kircher, Iter Extaticum, 1660.

* The solar system encircled by a snake eating its tail, representing the infinite, suggests that solar systems are repeated throughout the unverse in Thomas Wright's Clavis Coelestis, 1742.
The Copernican system retained the zodiac as depicted in Andreas Cellarius' Harmonia Macrocosmica, 1661.
Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology
5109 Cherry Street, Kansas City, MO 64110
This exhibition is made possible by generous support from Mr. & Mrs. James B. Hebenstreit and Mrs. Lathrop M. Gates.