1856 Burritt Map of the Solar System w/ Relative Magnitudes and Distances

A Plan of the Solar System exhibiting its relative Magnitudes and Distances. - Main View

1856 Burritt Map of the Solar System w/ Relative Magnitudes and Distances


The relative size and distance of the planets in the Solar System.


A Plan of the Solar System exhibiting its relative Magnitudes and Distances.
  1856 (undated)     15.25 x 27.5 in (38.735 x 69.85 cm)


This is an 1856 Elijah Burritt celestial chart of the Solar System. The central chart illustrates the relative magnitude of the planets, providing an understanding of the size of the primary planets in relation to one another, with sizes relative to the Earth provided as well. The arc of large and small triangles illustrates a part of the Sun on the same scale as the other planets! A chart below illustrates the primary planets' relative size and distances from the Sun. Two sub charts occupy the bottom third of the sheet and detail the orbital inclination of several primary planets to the plane of the Ecliptic and the distances of the satellites from their several primaries.
Publication History and Census
This chart was drawn by Elijah Burritt and published as plate no. I in the Francis J. Huntington's 1856 edition of Atlas, Designed to Illustrate Burritt's Geography of the Heavens. The separate chart is not cataloged in OCLC, however the entire atlas is well represented institutionally.


Elijah Hinsdale Burritt (April 20, 1794 - January 3, 1838) was an American astronomer and mathematician active in Connecticut. Burritt is often called 'the forgotten astronomer.' Burrito was born to an impoverished family and was initially apprenticed as a blacksmith. After an injury on the job, Burritt turned to astronomy with a passion. He studied at Williams Collage, from which he graduated in 1816. After graduation he moved to Milledgeville, then capital of Georgia. He taught at local schools for several years but, being a northerner, began to feel uncomfortable as his 'yankee attitudes' alienated his peers. He returned to Connecticut in 1829 and turned his parents home into an observatory to pursue his love of astronomy. Burritt then organized a group of 30 settlers to relocate to the newly formed Republic of Texas. There, Burritt and many of his fellow settlers contracted Yellow Fever and died. His seminal work, Burritt's Geography of the Heavens was published from Hartford, Connecticut, in approximately 1833. The work, while primarily educational in nature, was the seminal American geography of the period. Much of the nomenclature they developed, especially regarding the visible stars and constellations of the Southern Hemisphere, is still in use today. The atlas itself consisted of eight charts depicting the heavens seasonally and hemispherically. Constellations were depicted figurally, though only the most important stars were noted. The Geography of the Heavens was the last decorative celestial reference in the 19th century. Burrit's geography was among the most prized possessions of fantasy / horror writer H.P. Lovecraft who wrote:

"My maternal grandmother, who died when I was six, was a devoted lover of astronomy, having made that a specialty at Lapham Seminary, where she was educated; and though she never personally showed me the beauties of the skies, it is to her excellent but somewhat obsolete collection of astronomical books that I owe my affection for celestial science. Her copy of Burritt's Geography of the Heavens is today the most prized volume in my library." (to Maurice W. Moe, 1 January 1915)
As a side note Elijah Burritt is the brother of the more famous Elihu Burritt, known for his philanthropic and social work. More by this mapmaker...

Francis Junius Huntington (December 3, 1802 - February 5, 1878) was an American publisher of books and later music. Born in Suffield, Connecticut, Huntington was the son of Hezekiah Huntington, who fought in the American Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783), worked as a prominent attorney in Connecticut after the war, and was appointed District Attorney for Connecticut by President Thomas Jefferson in 1806. Francis Huntington grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. He entered the publishing world in Hartford at a young age and soon found success in his chosen field as a bookseller, printer, and publisher. Atlases, geography books, and textbooks were among the many works he published. He moved to New York City in 1862 where he began publishing musical books. He died in New York in 1878. He married Stella Bradley Bull on September 1, 1833, with whom he had seven children, three of which died in childhood. Learn More...


Burritt, E., Atlas Designed to Illustrate Burritt's Geography of the Heavens, (New York: Mason Brothers) 1856.    


Very good. Wear along centerfold. Areas of infill in centerfold. Light offsetting.


Rumsey 2853.001 (1835 edition). Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich, Elijah Burritt and the 'Geography of the Heavens.', Sky and Telescope 69 (Jan 1985).