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The Gradual Acceptance
Copernican Theory of the Universe
DOROTHY STIMSON, Ph.D.
Copyright 1917 by Dorothy Stimson
Trade Selling Agents
The Baker & Taylor Co.,
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TO MY FATHER AND MOTHER
The Systems of the World in 1651 According to Father Riccioli
(Reduced facsimile of the frontispiece in Riccioli: Almagestum Novum. Bologna, 1651.)
"Astrea, goddess of the heaven, wearing angel's wings and gleaming everywhere with stars, stands at the right; on the left is Argus of the hundred eyes, not tense, but indicating by the position of the telescope at his knee rather than at the eyes in his head, that while observing the work of God's hand, he appears at the same time to be worshipping as in genuflexion." (Riccioli: Alm. Nov., Præfatio, xvii). He points to the cherubs in the heavens who hold the planets, each with its zodiacal sign: above him at the top is Mars, then Mercury in its crescent form, the Sun, and Venus also in the crescent phase; on the opposite side are Saturn in its "tripartite" form (the ring explanation was yet to be given), the sphere of Jupiter encircled by its four satellites, the crescent Moon, its imperfections clearly shown, and a comet. Thus Father Riccioli summarized the astronomical knowledge of his day. The scrolls quote Psalms 19:2, "Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge."
Astrea holds in her right hand a balance in which Riccioli's theory of the universe (an adaptation of the Tychonic, see p. 80) far outweighs the Copernican or heliocentric one. At her feet is the Ptolemaic sphere, while Ptolemy himself half lies, half sits, between her and Argus, with the comment issuing from his mouth: "I will arise if only I am corrected." His left hand rests upon the coat of arms of the Prince of Monaco to whom the Almagestum Novum is dedicated.
At the top is the Hebrew Yah-Veh, and the hand of God is stretched forth in reference to the verse in the Book of Wisdom (10:20): "But thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number and weight."