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Astronomical Images : Capital letter with astronomer and armillary sphere

William Cuningham

Astronomical Images

<p style='text-align: justify;'>William Cuningham (1531 ' after 1586) was a Norwich-born physician, educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. His <i>magnum opus</i>, <i>The Cosmographical Glasse</i>, was published in 1559 by John Day (1522-84). In it, Cuningham discussed many aspects of practical mathematics and surveying in particular. He promoted the use of instruments including the quadrant and Ptolemy's rulers. The text and images combined elements derived from the works of Peter Apian and Oronce Fine, as well as those of the English mathematician, Robert Recorde. The author gratefully recognised Day's skill and expense in producing the many images in the work. Cuningham also produced a series of almanacs and prognostications during his career, for which he was heavily criticised in William Fulke's <i>Antiprognosticon</i> (London, 1560). This initial letter by John Bettes opens book 1 of <i>The Cosmographical Glasse</i>, which tackles such questions as the composition of the heavenly and elementary regions, and defines the great circles of the heavens and the terrestrial zones. Each of the five books within the volume opens with a decorated letter like this that reflects the main subject discussed within. The image shows an astronomer with his dog, a large armillary sphere which demonstrates the principal circles of the heavens, and a pair of compasses. The Sun and stars can be seen in the background, as can two towns or cities.</p>

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