Then Again




The Ptolemaic Solar System



Ptolemy of Alexandria, who lived in the second century A.D. developed the basic scheme of the universe which dominated astronomy until the time of Copernicus. This diagram shows Ptolemy's system of heavenly spheres adapted to a Christian worldview. The outermost sphere is labeled, "Heaven, realm and dwelling place of God and of all the elect." The next set of three spheres are the spheres of the fixed stars. Several constellations are represented by signs of the zodiac. Moving further in, the next seven spheres are for the seven planets: Saturni (Saturn), Iovis (Jupiter), Martis (Mars), Solis (Sun), Venens (Venus), Mercvrii (Mercury) and Lvnae (Moon). At the center of the Solar System was the Earth. The outer edge of the Earth was the sphere of air or atmosphere. Next came the sphere of water or hydroshere. Finally came Earth itself. At the center of the Earth was Hell, the realm of Satan.

From: Peter Apian, Cosmographia (1539). Reprinted in Alexandre Koyre, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe (Baltimore; Johns Jopkins, 1957).

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