THE ZODIAC HEVELIUS

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ZODIAC HEVELIUS Genesis Series, is a multidisciplinary artistic development of an exclusive and limited collection of digital sculptures in NFTs of the Equatorial Constellations or Zodiac, inspired by the work of Johann and Elisabeth Hevelius, Prodromus Astronomiae section Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia (Gdansk, 1690) or in its translation The Firmament of King Sobieski or Map of the Heavens.

 

Prodromus Astronomiae is a star catalog created by Johannes Hevelius and published posthumously by his wife and research aid Elisabeth Hevelius in 1690. The catalog consists of the location of 1,564 stars listed by constellation. It consists of three separate parts: a preface (labeled Prodromus), a star catalog (named Catalogus Stellarum), and an atlas of constellations (named Firmamentum Sobiescianum, sive Uranographia).

Although the observations of the catalog used nothing more than the astronomer's naked eye, the measurements were so precise as to be used in the making of celestial globes into the early 18th Century.

Firmamentum Sobiescianum, while technically part of the Prodromus Astronomiae, was likely published separately and in tighter circulation. The Uranographia of Johann and Elisabeth Hevelius, the most detailed and influential celestial atlas of the 17th century, contains 54 beautiful double-page engraved plates of 73 constellations, and 2 oversized folding plates of planispheres. The 54 constellations are collected into 3 subcategories: constellations of the northern hemisphere (Tables A to AA), equatorial constellations (tables from BB to NN) and Southern Hemisphere constellations.

The frontispiece of the Hevelius star atlas shows Johann bringing his modest gifts before a tribunal of great figures in the history of astronomy. These gifts are their proposed new constellations: the shield and sextant he carries, and the animals trailing behind. Of the 12 constellations they created, 7 are still recognized today. One is the Lynx, in recognition of the far-seeing eyes of astronomers.

The new Sextant constellation represented a large instrument which Johann and Elisabeth used to determine star positions.

Unique among the major star atlases, the Hevelius atlas depicted the star patterns as if from the outside looking in, not as seen when looking up into the night-time sky. Consequently, the Hevelius atlas constellation figures provided an influential model for the production of artfully-designed celestial globes.

The full title of the Uranographia pays tribute to the Polish king, John III Sobiesci. Johann and Elisabeth created a new constellation, Scutum, the “Shield of Sobiesci,” representing the king’s defense of Europe against the Turks.

Linda Hall Library, “Out of this World,” Hevelius

Galileo's World Exhibition Location
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

Source: History of Science Collections
Gallery: The Sky at Night
Section: The Sky at Night
Section Number: 1
Object Number: 8
Subject Area(s): Astronomy, History of the Book, Art, Law and Political Science, Scientific Instruments
Time Period: 17th Century
Region(s): Europe, Poland