Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica


Let there be no complaints about lack of variety: fetish photography one day, 17th-century astronomical instruments the next. Tycho Brahe’s Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica (1602) is a description of the astronomical devices used at Brahe’s Stjerneborg (Star Castle) on the island of Ven in Oresund, Denmark. One of the plates below shows the layout of the Star Castle while the others detail various sextants, armillary spheres and the like. A number of these are familiar from their more recent use as book illustrations so it’s good to once again find the source volume.

The concept of an observatory garden is very reminiscent of the Peking Observatory, and the much more impressive structures at Jaipur. Brahe wrote: “My purpose was partly to have placed some of the most important instruments securely and firmly in order that they should not be exposed to the disturbing influence of the wind, and should be easier to use, partly to separate my collaborators when there were several with me at the same time, and have some of them make observations in the castle itself, others in these cellars, in order that they should not get in the way of each other or compare their observations before I wanted this.”

Browse the rest of the book here or download it here. Tip via this tweet which linked to coloured copies of the plates.





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