Solis Circa Orbem Terrarum Spiralis Revolutio
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Plate 17 – Solis Circa Orbem Terrarum Spiralis Revolutio
From: Atlas Coelestis seu Harmonia Macrocosmica
Amsterdam: Schenk and Valk, 1708
Hand-colored copperplate engraving
36 1/2” 32" framed
This plate’s intended subject matter involves the varying degree’s of the suns orbit as it rotates around the Earth. Visually it involves the viewer with a series of many lines, which is a common element in several Cellarius plates. This element often composes unique and interesting views. In this plate in particular, the set of lines varies in its tilted horizontal aspect with parallel lines becoming narrowly spaced between each other near the center. Maintaining this parallel relationship with each other, calls for an interesting play of lines, which with respect to the tilt for the whole system are intersected symmetrically by the lines running from North to South.
The subject matter of the plate involves relating the sun’s varying paths in relation to the seasons. This is explained in the image through consideration to the celestial sphere and its motion around the Earth. During the suns annual orbit, which was believed to happen in one “sidereal” day (23 hours and 56 min) the sun runs along a line, labeled ZODIACVS, which represents the ecliptic orbit. This orbit varies with respect to the celestial equator, which in the diagram is labeled AEQVATOR, SEV AEQVINOCTIALIS.
The title cartouche in this plate is not supported by any cherubs, an element seen in a few of Cellarius’s plates from this series. In comparison to most of the plates, which are configured with a large circle in the center surrounded by decorative elements of cherubs and human or mythological figures, this plate is simple. There is no extensive array of figures, with minute details or referent globes and graphs. There aren’t even geographical or astronomical devices such as a mariner’s astrolabe in the hands of the cherubs. The more simple design in the surrounding element of this plate makes this plate visually more calming and unique when compared with most of its counterparts.