Ptolemaic world system

Ptolemaic world system

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Credit: J-L CHARMET/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Engraving, dating from 1493, showing the Ptolemaic world system, a model which attempted to explain the motions of the sun, moon and planets. The four "elements" are at the centre of the universe: Earth surrounded by concentric spheres of water, air and fire. Outside this are spheres containing the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the stars (here represented by the signs of the zodiac). The Earth was thought to remain stationary while the other spheres revolved about it every day. In addition, the Sun, Moon and planets had their own intrinsic motions. Presiding over all of this are God and the nine classes of angels.

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Keywords: artwork, astronomy, earth-centred, earth-centred universe, historical, history of science, planetary motions, ptolemaic, ptolemaic system, ptolemy, solar system, universe

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