Astronomicum Caesareum

Petrus Apianus. Astronomicum Caesareum. Ingolstadt, Germany, 1540. 

The first edition of the most ambitious precision instrument book of the Renaissance, this text offers a comprehensive survey of contemporary planetary astronomy with developing calculation technology.  An instructional handbook covering 35 different astronomical instruments, the book is also a revolutionary working instrument in itself, with volvelles (wheel charts) capable of establishing the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets within a degree of their Ptolemaic values.  The text also contains one of the earliest printed star charts and is the first to illustrate the phenomenon of comet tails pointing away from the sun.  The author Peter Bienewitz (aka Apianus), an instrument-maker, astronomer, geographer, and printer, designed the luxuriously colored book for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

Link: University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library digital copy.