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A constellation introduced by the German astronomer Johann Bode on his Uranographia atlas of 1801, representing one of the mechanical wonders of the age, an electrostatic generator. Bode presumably was attempting to emulate the Frenchman Nicolas Louis de Lacaille who had introduced constellations representing scientific and technical inventions. Unlike Lacaille’s constellations, though, Bode’s new figures never achieved lasting acceptance.

Machina Electrica lay in the southern sky between the modern Fornax and Sculptor, two Lacaille constellations. Bode expropriated stars from both of them to make Machina Electrica; worst to suffer was Sculptor, which was halved in extent. The annexed territory has since been returned.

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Machina Electrica, a constellation invented by Johann Bode and shown on his Uranographia star atlas of 1801. Most of the area it occupied was taken from Sculptor, to the right of this image.


© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved


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