Chapter

Preliminaries

Elly Dekker

in Illustrating the Phaenomena

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609697
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745645 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609697.003.0001
Preliminaries

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Celestial cartography developed according to two distinct traditions characterized by the way the stars are being mapped. One tradition uses descriptions of locations of stars within constellations, such as found in the literary works of the classical authors Eudoxus (Phaenomena), Aratus (Phaenomena) and Eratosthenes (Epitome Catasterismorum). The other method uses mathematical coordinates such as listed in the well-known Ptolemaic star catalogue. Both traditions are based on a spherical geometry of the cosmos. Concepts such as signs, conventions and precession, and the prerequisites to globe making are introduced. Also the problems involved in drawing constellation on the outside of a sphere are discussed. With the help of Hipparchus's rule the left and right side of a constellation figure is fixed, but the consequences of this rule in marking the constellation on a sphere was not always respected in antiquity.

Keywords: celestial sphere; signs; conventions; precession; epoch; globe making; Eudoxus; Aratus; Eratosthenes; Ptolemy; Hipparchus

Chapter.  25113 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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