BODE, Johann Elert

[Celestial Map - the Water Snake Hydra and Sextant]

1782 - [1805]
Size : 21,5 x 26,6 cm
Color : Hand Colored
Condition : A
Technique : Copper engraving
Reference : 604-26

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Beautiful gold enhanced copy of Bode's sky chart depicting the constellations of the Water Snake Hydra and Sextant.

Famous for his Uranographia published for the first time in 1801, Johann Bode is one of the main astronomers of the golden age of celestial atlases. In 1782, he published a small-format atlas for astronomy enthusiasts, Vorstellung der Gestirne auf XXXIV Tafeln. This remarkable atlas consists of 100 pages of tables and texts in German and 34 sky maps illustrating beautiful constellations and mythological figures. Like his contemporaries, Bode probably used the sky maps of Ptolemy's and al-Sufi's catalogs and often updated them with his own observations and discoveries [1]. Indeed, his sky maps present a perfect balance between scientific accuracy and aesthetic elements.

The present example is from the second expanded edition, published in 1805. The map is enhanced with attractive colors and golden details marking the stars.

[1] Lachièze-Rey, M. & Luminet J.P. (1998). Figures du Ciel ... Seuil / Bibliothèque national de France.

BODE, Johann Elert

Johann Elert Bode (1747-1826) is a German astronomer known for his reformulation and popularization of the Titius-Bode law. Bode determined the orbit of Uranus and suggested the name of the planet.

Bode began his career with the publication of a work on the solar eclipse of 1766, and then an elementary treatise on astronomy entitled Anleitung zur Kenntniß des gestirnten Himmels (1768). The success of the latter allowed him to meet Johann Heinrich Lambert in 1722 to work together. In 1774, Bode founded the famous astronomical almanac or Astronomisches Jahrbuch, which consisted of 51 volumes published annually.

In 1786, he became director of the Berlin Observatory. In 1801 he published Uranographia, a celestial atlas which aimed at both scientific precision in the representation of the position of stars and other astronomical objects, and the artistic interpretation of the figures of the stellar constellations. This work is the culmination of an era of artistic representation of the constellations.

Bode himself was directly involved in the research that led to the discovery of Uranus in 1781 by William Herschel and he is also responsible for the actual name of this planet. It is thanks to his observations on old stellar maps that Bode was able to establish that the planet had been mistaken for a star bearing the name 34 Tauri. At the time of the discovery, Herschel proposed to name the planet after George III, but it was Bode who suggested Uranus to continue the logic with which Saturn and Jupiter were named. It is from 1850 that the scientific community stops using Georgium Sidus and introduces Uranus.

Bode became director of the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut between 1787 and 1825. He was also a member of the Royal Swedish Society and the Royal Society.

[1] James Finch (2006). "The Straight Scoop on Uranium". allchemicals. info: The online chemical resource. Archived from the original on 21 December 2008.