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Lyra, 1603

Identifier: RB-JB1603-8
Lyra still image
Lyra still image

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

Caltech Images is a collection of over ten thousand images representing Caltech's history and the people who have contributed to the Caltech story. It includes historic and contemporary photographs of people and places, reproductions of historic scientific artifacts and art, and illustrations drawn from Caltech's rare book collection in the history of science and technology.


  • Creation: 1603

Conditions Governing Access

For more information consult the Caltech Archives Reproduction and Permissions.


1 prints

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


From Johann Bayer’s “Uranometria” (1603), the first ‘true’ star-atlas. This and other copper-engraved images from the book demonstrate a notable feature of this atlas: the sheer beauty of the plates. Alexander Mair, the artist, clearly found some inspiration in the De Gheyn engravings in the Aratea published by Hugo Grotius in 1600, but most of Bayer’s constellation figures have no known prototype. Significantly, each plate has a carefully engraved grid, so that star positions can be read off to fractions of a degree. These positions were taken, not from Ptolemy’s catalog, but from the catalog of Tycho Brahe, which had circulated in manuscript in the 1590s, yet not printed until 1602. Another important feature of the atlas was the introduction of a new system of stellar nomenclature, Bayer assigning Greek letters to the brighter stars, generally in the order of magnitude.

Repository Details

Part of the California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections Repository

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