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Cellarius Atlas: The Divine Sky - History's Most Beautiful Celestial Atlas (Harmonia Macrocosmica of 1660) Hardcover – 19 Oct 2006
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About the Author
Robert van Gent is a collaborator on the Explokart Research Program for the History of Cartography at the University of Utrecht's Faculty of Geosciences. After obtaining his PhD in astronomy at the University of Utrecht, he worked from 1989 to 1999 as curator of astronomy at the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden. He has published on the history of astronomy, celestial cartography, and astronomical instruments. Since 2005 he has been working on a carto-bibliography of celestial atlases, planispheres, and related items published in the Low Countries.
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These plates are exquisite; moreover, large-scale figures giving of specific details from these prints bear close scrutiny and motivate one to look more closely. Some professional astronomers of this era were quite dismissive about this work, claiming that the stars were obscured by the traditional constellation figures. There are two sides to this: Astronomical fashion was rightly turning towards constellation figures rendered as simple outlines only – this was more practicable as it indeed enabled the stars to be seen more clearly. In defence of Cellarius on the other hand, given that he rendered the figures in full detail, he took very great pains (as some other artists did not) to make the stars stand out as distinctly as possible.
The modern editorial commentary by Robert Van Gent is lucid and scholarly. It is given in three languages: English, French and German.
It is a huge book (32cm by 3cm by 54cm), but slightly smaller than the size stated by Amazon. This is because Amazon includes the dimensions of the decorative cardboard box in which the publisher tightly packs the book. It should be mentioned that Taschen produced a second edition in a smaller format. This would be less unwieldy, but I much prefer the greater impact of the first edition. Both are now sadly (and unfathomably) out of print. Be careful to check which edition you are buying from Amazon.
I had excellent service in buying my (brand new) copy from vendor bauhaus07. The price was very reasonable – just 50% over the publisher’s original selling price. This is a sumptuous book that I’m very pleased to own – now all I need is a scriptorium!
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