Hakluyt @ 400 - Renaissance Scientific Instruments, by Dr Allan Chapman

Friday, November 18, 2016 - 17:15
Contact person
Georgiana Datcu
Talk / Lecture

Surveying the Heavens; Petrus Apianus, Tycho Brahe, and Practical Navigation

By the time that Richard Hakluyt was teaching geography and cosmography at Christ Church  around 1580, there was already an established Europe-wide trade in making graduated mathematical instruments. Late 15th and 16th century Europe became fascinated with astronomy, and practical mathematics, while the great oceanic voyages posed all manner of problems for navigators. The German mathematician Petrus Apianus exerted a major influence with his Cosmographia (1524) astronomical manual, while Tycho Brahe in Denmark recognised the need to re-map the entire heavens. Tycho's  Astronomia Insturate Mechanica (1598) is a beautifully illustrated treatise describing the design and usage of his great instruments. Without this new precision celestial cartography, the ideas of Copernicus, Galileo, and others would have remained just theories.

Most of the ordinary instruments of the working navigator, surveyor, and map-maker would have been made of wood, and would have had an ephemeral existence. They would have been lost at sea, broken, or eventually thrown into the fire.Where these instruments truly come to life, though, is in the engraved and printed manuals for their usage.

To illustrate how these instruments were used, the Library has invited Dr Allan Chapman to give a series of talks. These will take place on 18 November, 5 December and 16 January in the Upper Library at Christ Church, commencing 5;15 pm, all welcome. The event is free of charge, but spaces are limited. To book a place, please contact Dr Cristina Neagu, Christ Church Library, Oxford OX1 1DP. Tel.: +44(0)1865 276 265. Email: cristina.neagu@chch.ox.ac.uk