The Uranographia of Johann and Elisabeth Hevelius, the most detailed and influential celestial atlas of the 17th century, contains 54 beautiful double-page engraved plates of 73 constellations, and 2 oversized folding plates of planispheres.
The frontispiece of the Hevelius star atlas shows Johann bringing his modest gifts before a tribunal of great figures in the history of astronomy. These gifts are their proposed new constellations: the shield and sextant he carries, and the animals trailing behind. Of the 12 constellations they created, 7 are still recognized today. One is the Lynx, in recognition of the far-seeing eyes of astronomers.
The new Sextant constellation represented a large instrument which Johann and Elisabeth used to determine star positions.
Unique among the major star atlases, the Hevelius atlas depicted the star patterns as if from the outside looking in, not as seen when looking up into the night-time sky. Consequently, the Hevelius atlas constellation figures provided an influential model for the production of artfully-designed celestial globes.
The full title of the Uranographia pays tribute to the Polish king, John III Sobiesci. Johann and Elisabeth created a new constellation, Scutum, the “Shield of Sobiesci,” representing the king’s defense of Europe against the Turks.