Flamsteed's Atlas Coelestis

A hand-colored copy of Flamsteed’s Atlas Coelestis, dated 1753

You may have read in the news recently that a team of astronomers, including several researchers from SDSU, have discovered two planets orbiting a pair of suns roughly 5,000 light years from earth. Named Kepler-47, it is considered to be the first multi-planet system orbiting two suns (a binary star).

What you may not know is that the SDSU Library’s Special Collections Department has a remarkable collection of historic astronomy books and manuscripts, including works by Johannes Kepler, the German mathematician and astronomer for whom NASA’s Kepler Mission is named. The Historic Astronomy Collection also contains classic works by Copernicus, Brahe, Galileo, and Newton, to name a few.

The collection contains some extremely rare and valuable astronomy books that were printed between 1501 and 1650, including the collection’s crown jewel, Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium. Lovely hand-colored celestial maps and accounts and predictions of astronomical events also provide a unique glimpse at humankind’s early steps toward understanding the universe.

Take a few minutes to browse our celestial collection online or stop by and see these unique works in person. It’s worth your time. And speaking of time, the collection also contains a fascinating body of work on horology—the science of time-keeping!