Wednesday, 14 December 2016
"A clear leitmotiv runs through Brahe's chemistry, both cosmological and medical-namely, belief in a correspondence between the powers and effects of phenomena in the heavens and those of things that grow on and under the earth. This relationship is expressed in a pair of vignettes and mottoes that are prominently displayed on the title page and colophon of the Astronomiae instauratae mechanica. One vignette shows a godlike figure, a putto at his side, who gazes skyward while leaning on a star globe with a pair of compasses in his hand; it carries the motto suspiciendo despicio ("in looking up, I look down"). The corresponding vignette of the colophon shows the godlike figure reclining on a drape-covered mound, holding some herbs, while the snake of Aesculapius coils round his arm; the putto, meantime, pulls aside the cover and peers underground at some furnaces and chemical apparatus. The motto now reads despiciendo suspicio ("in looking down, I look up").29 Thus for Brahe the observation and contemplation of the heavens was complemented by the chemical scrutiny of the fruits of the terrestrial world-so much so that he referred to chemistry as "terrestrial astronomy."
Source: Laboratory Design and the Aim of Science, Andreas Libavius versus Tycho Brahe, by Owen Hannaway* (*Department of Science, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland), page 597 and 598;
"Brahe's emblems had short inscriptions taken from the 'Emerald Tablet'that was attributed to Hermes Trismegistus; for Astronomia 'Suspiciendo Despicio' ('As I look up, I look inot the depths') and for Chymia 'Despiciendo Suspicio' ('As I look down, I look upwards'). "
Source: The Emblem in Scandinavia and the Baltic, Edited by Simon McKeown, Mara R. Wade; Glasgow: Glasgow Emblem Studies: 2006;
Comae Berenicis Com Bernice's Hair
The legend about Bernice, daughter of King Magas of Cyrene is a very old one. It was revived in the realm of astronomy by Tycho Brahe in his Astronomiae Instauratae Progymnasmata and has been retained to this day. Bernice, so the tail goes, has her beautiful locks shorn as a sacrifice to Venus in gratitude that her husband Ptolemy returned home safe and sound from the wars. Ptolemy was by no means overjoyed by this act on her part and only after the court mathematician Conon of Samos proclaimed that the gods had put the locks amongst the stars did they become reconciled. Neither ancient legend nor Tycho Brahe could have known that they thus delineated a part of the sky which contains a large cluster of distant galaxies. Coma Bernices is a constellation poor in stars.
Source: Constellations, a concise guide in colour, by Joseph Klepesta and Antonìn Rükl; copyright 1969 by Artia