The Renaissance in Astronomy banner image

BOOKS, GLOBES AND INSTRUMENTS OF THE 16TH CENTURY

An exhibition by the Royal Astronomical Society and the Museum of the History of Science
to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Gerard Mercator.
11 May to 9 September 2012

 

Johannes Schöner's magnificent celestial globe (centre) and other objects featured in the exhibition

Johannes Schöner's magnificent celestial globe (centre) and other objects featured in the exhibition

Astronomers may seem always to have been preoccupied with theory but The Renaissance in Astronomy shows that in the 16th century they created and used many finely-crafted and even beautiful objects. Through outstanding examples of astronomical craft, the exhibition – presented here in its online version – sets in a new context the revolutionary proposition of Copernicus that the earth is in motion.

The exhibition marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of cartographer Gerard Mercator, whose world map projection we use to this day. Mercator was famed for his globes and a pair of his splendid terrestrial and celestial globes, lent by Royal Museums Greenwich, is featured in the exhibition. Also on show is Mercator’s own annotated copy of Copernicus’s ground-breaking book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. Important books from the library of Royal Astronomical Society are also on display, including Peter Apian’s stunning Astronomicum Caesareum, along with astronomical instruments from the Museum’s collection.

The exhibition is a collaboration between MHS and the Royal Astronomical Society.

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