‘Your astronomers and ours differ exceedingly’: the controversy over the ‘new star’ of 1572 in the light of a newly discovered text by Thomas Digges

Abstract

This article presents evidence that an anonymous publication of 1573, a Letter sent by a gentleman of England [concerning …] the myraculous starre nowe shyning, was written by Thomas Digges, England's first Copernican. It tells the story of how it arose out of research commissioned by Elizabeth I's privy counsellors in response to the conventional argument of Jean Gosselin, librarian to Henri III of France, that the star was a comet which presaged wars. The text is significant because it seems to contain the observations and opinions that Digges held before he completed his other astronomical treatise, the groundbreaking Alae seu scalae mathematicae. It also casts some light on the development of Digges's radical and puritan views about the star, Copernican astronomy, the infinity of the universe and a belief that the ‘latter days’ of the world had arrived

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