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Hyginus, Poeticon astronomicon (Venice, 1485)

Astronomical Poem

Greek writers like Hesiod and Aratos compiled ancient stories of the constellations, often in poetic form, with memorable instructions for locating bright stars and zodiac constellations. Constellations of the zodiac contain the wandering courses of the planets and the annual path of the Sun. Familiarity with the stars enabled one to coordinate the affairs of life, including agricultural cycles, with the sky at night.

Hyginus, a Roman poet, conveyed this body of practical knowledge into Latin. Charming constellation figures are hand-colored in this copy. It was printed by Erhard Ratdolt, a renowned early printer of works in astronomy and geometry.

Galileo's World Exhibition Location

Source: History of Science Collections

Section: Stars

Section Number: 4

Object Number: 21

Subject Area(s): Astronomy, Literature, History of the Book, Art

Time Period: Ancient

Region(s): Europe, Italy, Rome, Greece

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Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices is the only one of the modern 88 official constellations named after a historical figure. It represents the hair of Berenice, Queen of Egypt (267 221 BCE), who reigned with Ptolemy III Euergetes. Learn more about this in this learning leaflet.