Comet observations, 16th century

Comet observations, 16th century

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Credit: MIDDLE TEMPLE LIBRARY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Comet observations. 16th-century artwork of the positions of four comets in the night sky, with Latin labels for the winds (Notus, south; Zephyrus Favonius, west; Aquilo, north; Eurus Subsolanus, east). One comet is shown with the south-west wind Africus Lips. This woodcut is from 'De cometis dissertationes novae' (1580) by the Swiss physician and theologian Thomas Erastus (1524-1583). This work was part of an extensive debate about comets taking place among scholars in Europe at the time, prompted by the comet of 1577-8. Erastus argued that comets could not cause pestilence as was popularly believed.

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