The German astronomer Johann Bode introduced this constellation on his Uranographia star atlas of 1801 to commemorate Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press some 350 years earlier. It lay in what is now the northern part of Puppis, the stern of the ship Argo, between Canis Major and the hind legs of Monoceros. It consisted of the press, a box of movable type with composing stick, two inking pads, and other paraphernalia.

According to the French astronomer Joseph Jérôme de Lalande in his Histoire Abrégée de l’Astronomie, he and Bode agreed in 1798 to create two new constellations, ‘la Presse de Gutemberg [sic] et la Globe de Montgolfier’, thereby commemorating two great inventions of Germany and France respectively. The Montgolfier balloon became Globus Aerostaticus.

These two new Franco-German figures made their debuts on Bode’s Uranographia in 1801. Although subsequently shown on many popular maps they were not eventually accepted, perhaps because the motives for their invention were too overtly nationalistic.


Officina Typographica, invented by Johann Bode and shown on Chart XVIII
of his Uranographia atlas of 1801. To the north of it can be seen part of the
body of Monoceros, the unicorn.

© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved