The Face of the Moon

3. Schyrleus de Rheita, Antonius Maria (1597-1660)

Oculus Enoch et Eliae, sive Radius sidereomysticus. -- Antwerp: Ex officina typographica Hieronymi Verdussii, 1645.

Schyrleus de Rheita was a Capuchin priest who left Bohemia during the Thirty Years War and conducted his optical and astronomical work in Belgium. This treatise on optics includes a map of the full moon--the first on a reasonably large scale. Rheita is noted in the history of optics for his invention of the erecting eyepiece. It is ironic that his lunar map is one of the first to have the south pole at the top, showing the moon inverted, as it appears through an astronomical telescope without his eyepiece.

image - click to enlarge

Rheita's map has not been much appreciated, probably because it was so soon eclipsed by the more splendid efforts of Hevelius, Divini, and Grimaldi, but it captures the brilliant ray system of Tycho (feature A) much better than any other illustration to that time, as well as the mountainous nature of the Apennines (E). The floors of the craters Plato (Q) and Grimaldi (u) are properly depicted as black.

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