Gorgeous star maps show how 16th Century astronomers saw the heavens

Ignace Gaston Pardies, a French Jesuit and mathematics professor in Paris, drew a series of constellation maps in 1693. Pardies died the year before the first edition of his maps was published in 1674, but his work influenced Jesuit astronomers long after his death.

Pardies used a projection method for his map called a gnomonic projection, which depicts the universe as a six-sided cube instead of a globe. The six map plates join together to depict the entire night sky. The plates separately depict the constellations at the north pole and the south pole, then the sky during the vernal equinox, summer solstice, autumnal equinox and winter solstice.

The image pictured above shows the constellations in the sky at the summer solstice, including Cancer, Taurus, Orion, Gemini, Perseus and Canis Major. To see the five other plates individually and pictured together, visit David Rumsey’s site here.

Republished courtesy of David Rumsey Maps Collection.

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