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VMs: Interpretation of the Astronomical Folios

Interpretation of Astronomical Diagrams

I'm going to step out on a limb here, and report on my discoveries so far in the astronomical diagrams. The branch seems to be fairly strong, so I'm not too afraid of falling. But I would like to ask someone to shake the tree, and see how strong it really is.

The investigation has not been made in an orderly, diagram-by-diagram manner, but as inspiration has dictated. So it was a surprise to me that when the interpretations were written down in folio order, a logical progression of subjects emerged.

In addition, the events depicted all occurred within a narrow range of dates--over the third quarter of the 16th Century. The evidence for locating the Observer in Prague is weaker, having only one event indicating it. But all the events could be observed from there, so there is no direct evidence against it.

I will give first the interpretations in folio order, then discuss them in turn.

f67r1	Solar Eclipse seen in Prague, 24 Jan 1544
f67r2	?
f67v1	Tycho's Star-- A supernova seen 6 Nov 1572
f67v2	NW  Venus/Jupiter/Mercury conjunction-sunrise-16 May 1549
	NE  ?
	SE  Jupiter/Mercury/Venus/Mars conjuction-sunset-10 June 1577
	SW  ?
f68r1	Waxing gibbous Moon/planet?
f68r2	Waxing gibbous Moon/planet?
f68r3	Moon on Taurus/Aries cusp 14 Sep 1554
f68v1	?
f68v2	?
f68v3	?
f69r	?
f69v	?
f70r1	The World?
f70r2	?
f70v-f74v  Zodiac


f67r1: The face is clearly the same one on other drawings of the Moon. It is shown in full and both gibbous phases, as would be seen a day or two before and after the event. This solar eclipse was the only one to be seen in Prague over the indicated time period of 1200-1600. 

f67r2: No interpretation as yet, but I note that the Moons are drawn in the waxing gibbous phase, matching that of f68r1 and 2.

f67v1: This diagram has been worrisome. While other faces in the manuscript are simple and cartoonish, this one was drawn with care, and would seem to depict a real person. The face is very faint on my copy, but compare it with the face of Tycho Brahe I found at the website http://es.rice.edu/ES/humsoc/Galileo/People/tycho_brahe.html , especially the second picture. 
Interpreting the diagram as Tycho's Star allows the identification of the four dark stars as the four brightest in Cassiopeia.

f67v2: The NW and SE circles depict precise and unique configurations of planets, with the Sun shown setting and rising over what apparently represents trees. I have found no instances of configurations like in the NE and SW circles, and am not even sure they can occur. They may have been added for balance. The object in the middle may represent Prague. I note that if the objects the Sun and Moon are setting behind ARE trees, then this may lend some understanding to other folios showing similar objects.

f68r1: This Moon/planet configuration has not yet been found, but I note there are 29 stars, the same as the Pisces diagram.

f68r2: This has not been found either, and there are 24 labeled stars.

f68r3: This position of the waning gibbous Moon relative to the Pleaides occurs about every 22 years. It is on the border between Taurus and Aries, and the fact that those are the only two Zodiac signs to have two entries indicates a possible connection.

f70r1: Given the way trees are depicted in f67v2, this might represent the world.


The identification of astronomical events may present a unique opportunity to gain some insight into the Voynichese language. Knowing certain years, it may be possible to identify numerals, or words representing those numbers. In f67v1, the name Tyge (Tycho) Brahe might be found, or the constellation name Cassiopeia in its earlier form.