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Astronomical Images : Title-page with armillary sphere

Christophorus Clavius

Astronomical Images

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This is the third edition of Clavius's work, first published in Rome in 1570 and then in 1575. This text shows clearly how commentaries on Sacrobosco's <i>De sphaera</i> had become, by the end of the sixteenth century, substantial astronomical treatises in their own right. Clavius's work was used as an advanced astronomy textbook in Jesuit colleges throughout Europe. This edition contains an important innovation with respect to the previous ones. Here Clavius asserts the importance of astronomy and its methods against scholastic philosophers. He presents his views on Copernicanism. It is noteworthy that although the present edition appeared almost a decade after the 'Brahe' nova of 1572, here Clavius ignored the new phenomenon. In the 1585 edition he did introduce a section on it and a discussion of its location. This issue was a major point of contention with the scholastic philosophers, who maintained the incorruptibility of the heavens. The use of an armillary sphere to illustrate the title-page of this work is not surprising, given that it was used as a Jesuit textbook. The armillary sphere was an instrument used largely to model the heavens and their relationship to the Earth. By a practical understanding of the arrangement of its rings, a student would come to understand the theory of the Sphere. Thus, it was a useful aid to teaching and acted as an emblem of accessible astronomical teaching.</p>

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