Revolutions in Astronomy


Special Collections holds many of the most important early works in the history of astronomy.

This virtual exhibition highlights a selection of key texts from various collections, including medieval manuscripts, 15th century books using the innovations offered by early printing, and groundbreaking 17th and 18th century scientific works. As we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the University of Glasgow’s Chair of Astronomy in 2010, also on display are items relating to Alexander Wilson - Glasgow's first Professor of Astronomy - and his successors.

This virtual exhibition is based on a display organised for the Royal Astronomical Society NAM conference, held at the University of Glasgow in April 2010. Research and captions by Paris O'Donnell; web editing by Lisa Ramsay (Graduate Trainees on placement in Special Collections): May 2010.

View the exhibition by selecting items of interest from the thumbnails below, or read about the books in chronological order: go to the first book.

Writings on the Calendar: Double Opening from from 'Dialogus de Mundo'
Writings on the Calendar
Instrument with Volvelles from Regiomontanus' 'Kalendarium'
Johannes Regiomontanus: Calendar
Frontbinding of 'Tabulae Astronomicae'
Alfonso X, King of Castile and Leon: Tabulae Astronomicae
Heliocentric Diagram from 'De Revolutionibus'
Copernicus: De Revolutionibus
Illustration of 'Globus Magnus Orichalcicus' from Brahe's 'Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica'
Tycho Brahe: Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica
Title Page Engraving of the Star Atlas 'Uranometria'
Johann Bayer: Uranometria
Engraving from Kepler's 'Tabulae Rudolphinae...'
Johannes Kepler: Tabulae Rudolphinae
Map of the Moon from 'Selenographia'
Johann Hevel: Selenographia
'Lemmata' with Copious Annotations from Newton's 'Principia'
Sir Isaac Newton: Principia
Title Page of 'Historia Celestis Britannica'
John Flamsteed: Historia Celestis Britannica
Plate VIII from Wright's 'An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe…'
Thomas Wright: An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe...
Engraved Star Map from 'Globus Coelestis Sinicus Explicatus'
Globus Coelestis Sinicus Explicatus
Lecture Notes and Diagrams on Natural Philosophy
Lecture Notes Given by John Tran on Natural Philosophy (Session 1687-88)
Diagram from Alexander Wilson's ‘Observations on the Solar Spots’
Alexander Wilson: Observations on the Solar Spots, Philosophical Transactions
Page of Text from Wilson's 'Thoughts on General Gravitation...'
Alexander Wilson: Thoughts on General Gravitation and Views Thence Arising as to the State of the Universe
Title Page from Nichol's 'Abstract of Astronomical Lectures'
Letter from Patrick Wilson, Prof. of Astronomy, to Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville
Introduction to Grant's 'Catalogue of 6415 Stars...'
John Pringle Nichol: Abstract of Astronomical Lectures Delivered at the University of Glasgow, Session 1837-1838
Letter from Patrick Wilson to Henry Dundas (Second Page)
Robert Grant: Catalogue of 6415 Stars for the Epoch 1870
Inscription to Kelvin from 'Testimonials in Favour of Ludwig Becker...'
Testimonials in Favour of Ludwig Becker, Candidate for the Chair of Practical Astronomy in the University of Glasgow
A Page Plus Additional Diagram from Becker's Paper on the Photographic Transit Instrument
Materials from the former University Observatory relating to Ludwig Becker