Science Art: Hemisphere Austral, XVIII from Atlas Coelestis, by John Flamsteed, 1729.

Scientific Illustration of the stars of the southern hemisphere, as charted by John Flamsteed

Scientific Illustration of the stars of the southern hemisphere, as charted by John FlamsteedClick to embiggen

From 1675 until his death in 1719, John Flamsteed worked at the newly built Greenwich Observatory, charting the stars in the sky. He was England’s first Astronomer Royal. His atlas of the constellations came out 10 years after his death, in 1729, and was greeted as the most accurate and most detail set of star charts yet produced – although the art was fanciful, and even a bit… off (see the Linda Hall Library listing on Flamsteed for a look at his very peculiar Virgo).

I don’t know if he ever traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, or what that would have been like at the turn of the 18th century. Not very comfortable, I’d imagine. And not very quick. Yet here it is, his map of what you’d see if you looked up in South Africa around the time the first Boers were setting down roots, or in Australia before James Cook ever sailed into Botany Bay.

Keep looking up, folks. Keep looking up.