Reader title


Nicholas Copernicus
 De Revolutionibus

John Dee
 The Mathematicall Praeface

Robert Recorde
 The Castle of Knowledge

Marcellus Palingenius Stellatus
 The Zodiake of Life

Thomas Digges
 A Perfect Description of the Celestial Orbs

Giordano Bruno
 The Ash Wednesday Supper

Galileo Galilei
 Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

Thomas Digges    (C. 1546-1595)

Thomas Digges was born circa 1546-about three years after the publication of De Revolutionibus. He was the son of the mathematician and scientist Leonard Digges, and a protege of John Dee, the preeminent scientist in England during the latter part of the sixteenth century. By 1573, when he was only twenty seven, Thomas Digges' reputation as an astronomer was firmly established in England and on the continent with the publication of his work related to the super-nova that had appeared the previous year. In 1576 he took it upon himself to edit the new edition of his deceased father's almanac, A Prognostication everlasting. Digges added A Perfit Description to this edition, which was reprinted at least six times, making Thomas' humble addendum to his father Leonard's very practical work the most influential argument for the Copernican system in England.

A Perfit Description is, to a large extent, a paraphrased translation of the first book of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus, and readers of that work will recognize this. There are, however, some significant departures and elaborations, and it is for these that Digges is of interest today. Digges also quotes the poetry of Marcellus Palingenius Stellatus, specifically the book "Aquarius" from Zodiacus Vitae, which he reportedly had memorized. The addition to his father's almanac also contained "A short discourse touching the variation of the compasse," and a few words on "Errors in the Arte of Navigation commonly practized," which followed his discussion of the Copernican theory, but they not been printed here.

Dartmouth College
Copyright 1999, MATC
Last updated 24 September 1999