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The frontispiece from the atlas of the heavens "Harmonia macrocosmica" by Andreas Cellarius: hand-coloured engraving from the year 1660. Frederik Hendrik van Den Hove (1628-1698) created this engraving. He divided the picture into two sections, an upper heavenly one and a lower earthly one. The heavenly section includes the sun, the crescent moon, the stars and the two signs of the zodiac Libra and Virgo. It is observed by two cherubs holding three-barred crosses. The two other cherubs are holding towards the heavens a common symbol of the heliocentric view of the universe. In their other hands they are holding a cloth bearing the title of the book.
The earthly half of the picture shows a group of famous astronomers surrounding Urania, the muse of astronomy and astrology. She is shown seated with an armillary sphere on her lap, and with her left hand she points to the heavens. On the far left Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) is seated. With his right hand he is measuring a celestial globe and with his left he too is pointing to the skies. Opposite Tycho Brahe is Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). He is making notes while pointing at an armillary sphere. In the background on the left of the picture stands Ptolemy (c.100-175), his gaze directed towards the heavens while he points to an open book (probably the Almagest). To the right of Ptolemy there is a figure that has his right arm raised and is carrying a book under his left. We do not know enough about this figure to identify him with certainty. The next figure to the right is King Alfonso X of Castile (1221-1284, also known as Alfonso the Wise), holding a disc-shaped representation of the heliocentric view of the universe in his hand. The link between the earthly and the heavenly is provided by Johan Philip Lansberg (1561-1632), who holds a staff pointing to the heliocentric symbol. This well thought-out frontispiece was a fitting start to a work of this type.

Source: Dr. Volker Remmert, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

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