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The 17th-Century Astronomer Who Made the First Atlas of the Moon

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Great read from Smithsonian on the life and work of Johannes Hevelius.

In the rare books collection of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, a large tome tied with string sits in an ivory box that looks like it came from a bakery. At one point, the book belonged to Edwin Hubble, who revealed that galaxies exist beyond our own and that the universe is expanding, among other things, at nearby Mount Wilson Observatory. Between the well-worn leather cover boards, I find some of the first detailed maps of the lunar surface, illustrated and engraved in the 17th century. As I delicately place the volume back in the box, the covers leave a light brown residue on my fingertips—a small remnant of one man’s quest to tame the moon.

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