ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The Sun as a weapon. Artwork published in the book Magna Lucis et Umbrae (1646) by the German Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher (circa 1601-1680). This book, about optics and magic lantern technology, included details of various types of mirrors and their uses. Here, with Latin text, the artwork shows a coastal city using parabolic mirrors to focus sunlight on a sailing ship, setting it on fire. Diagrams across top from left to right show parabolic, elliptical and circular mirrors. The book's dedication to Archduke Ferdinand, son of Kircher's patron, the Holy Roman Emperor, is at lower right.
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