The Comet Book

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Comet Book

"Necessarium est autem veteres ortus cometarum habere collectos. Deprehendi enim propter raritatem eorum cursus adhuc non potest, nec explorari an vices servent et illos ad suum diem certus ordo producat"

[It is essential that we have a record of all the appearances of comets in former times. For, on account of their infrequency, their orbit cannot yet be discovered or examined in detail, to see they observe a periodical interval and whether their reappearance on a fixed day could be the result of certain cause] {Seneca, 60AD}

comet engravings from the Theater of Comets

1664 comet path illustrations - Lubieniecki

Systema astronomicum cometae - Salsburg

1664 comet paths on star map

Uranoscopica Henricus 1665

Comet view from Holland on celestial map 1665

Comet trajectory on focal star sign map

Caspar Schott comet path on star map

historic comet trajectories on engraved star map

Ingolstadt 1664 - comet path in illustrated star field

Star map with comet paths seen from Vienna 1660s

Hamburg city sky - comet path 1665

1664 comet path on astrology star map

comet on star map

Cetus astronomical focus with comet

astronomical system with comet

fish mouth star field close-up

comparison of star field engraving styles with comets

Comet views on celestial map

Autorum Scriptis - large field astrological star map

comet seen from Britain on star map

hydra star system with comet paths seen by Caspar Schott

comet path overlaid on star map

Stanislaus Lubienietzki (1623-1675) was a Polish historian and astronomer. [variations on his name include Lubieniecki and Lubienietski] Apart from the present work, he is remembered for the posthumous publication of The History of the Polish Reformation ('Historia Reformationis Polonicae'). He is said to have been persecuted by Lutheran ministers who ultimately murdered him and his 2 daughters with poison {source}.

The vast 'Theatrum Cometicum' (The Theatre of Comets) was published in Amsterdam in 1668 and includes about 80 lavish engravings (a great many of them are double-page fold out illustrations). It provides accounts of over 400 comet sightings throughout history and in discussing their meaning, Lubienietzki essentially helps usher in a more astronomical rather than astrological approach to the study of comets.

Much of the book is devoted to recording the observations across Europe of comets that occurred in 1664/1665 by eminent scholars such as Athanasius Kircher, Caspar Schott, Otto von Guericke, Christian Huygens and Johannes Hevelius, among others. They each supplied constellation charts with their accounts so the engraved plates made for this book reflect the variety of cartographic traditions popular during the 17th century (the styles of Willem Janszoon Blaeu and Jodocus Hondius dominate). The contribution by Hevelius (also from Poland) is interesting because his own treatise, 'Cometographia', was also published in 1668.

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