Hevelius’s depiction of Sextans

Sextans was shown by Johannes Hevelius in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum star atlas under the name Sextans Uraniae, Urania being the Greek Muse of astronomy. In the introduction to his catalogue and atlas Hevelius wrote that he placed the constellation between two fiery creatures, Leo the lion to the north and Hydra the multi-headed monster to the south, as he himself had suffered ‘fiery tortures’ when his rooftop observatory, including his favoured sextant, was destroyed by a conflagration in 1679.

Although an innovator in some ways, Hevelius was a traditionalist in others and showed the constellations in mirror-image form, as though seen on the surface of a celestial globe. Hence the constellations in his atlas appear flipped left to right by comparison with their true appearance in the sky.

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Hevelius's constellation Sextans