Sedentary Occupations of the Peasants.--Facsimile from an Engraving on Wood, attributed to Holbein, in the "Cosmographie" of Munster (Basle, 1552, folio).

Cosmography is the science that maps the general features of the universe, describing both heaven and Earth (but without encroaching on geography or astronomy). The 14th century work'Aja'ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara'ib al-mawjudat by Persian physician Zakariya al-Qazwini is considered to be an early work of cosmography.

Traditional Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cosmography schematize a universe centered on Mount Meru surrounded by rivers, continents and seas. These cosmographies posit a universe being repeatedly created and destroyed over time cycles of immense lengths.

In 1551, Martín Cortés de Albacar, from Zaragoza, Spain, published Breve compendio de la esfera y del arte de navegar. Translated into English and reprinted several times,the work was of great influence in Britain for many years. He proposed spherical charts and mentioned magnetic deviation and the existence of magnetic poles.

Peter Heylyn's 1652 book "Cosmographie" (enlarged from his "Microcosmos" of 1621) was one of the earliest attempts to describe the entire world in English, and being the first known description of Australia and among the first of California. The book has 4 sections, examining the geography, politics, and cultures of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, with an addendum on Terra Incognita, including Australia, and extending to Utopia, Fairyland[disambiguation needed ], and the "Land of Chivalrie".

In 1659, Thomas Porter published a smaller, but extensive "Compendious Description of the Whole World", which also included a Chronology of world events from Creation forward. These were all part of a major trend in the European Renaissance to explore (and perhaps comprehend) the known world.

The word was also commonly used by Buckminster Fuller in his lectures.

In astrophysics, the term "cosmography" is beginning to be used to describe attempts to determine the large-scale geometry and kinematics of the observable universe, independent of any specific cosmological theory or model.[1][2]


  1. ^ Weinberg, Steven (1972). Gravitation and Cosmology: Principles and Applications of the General Theory of Relativity. Wiley. pp. 407–463. ISBN 0471925675. 
  2. ^ Visser, Matt (2005). "Cosmography: Cosmology without the Einstein equations". General Relativity and gravitation 37 (9): 1541–1548. arXiv:gr-qc/0411131. doi:10.1007/s10714-005-0134-8. 

See also

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  • cosmography — [käz mäg′rə fē] n. [ME cosmographie < LL cosmographia < Gr kosmographia, description of the world: see COSMO & GRAPHY] 1. a general description of the world 2. the science dealing with the structure of the universe as a whole and of its… …   English World dictionary

  • Cosmography — Cos*mog ra*phy (k?z m?g r? f?), n.; pl. {Cosmographies} ( f?z). [Gr. kosmografi a; ko smos the world + gra fein to write: cf. F. cosmographie.] A description of the world or of the universe; or the science which teaches the constitution of the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cosmography — description of the universe, mid 15c., from COSMO (Cf. cosmo ) + GRAPHY (Cf. graphy). Related: Cosmographic …   Etymology dictionary

  • cosmography — kosmografija statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. cosmography vok. Kosmographie, f rus. космография, f pranc. cosmographie, f …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • cosmography — noun (plural phies) Etymology: Middle English cosmographie, from Late Latin cosmographia, from Greek kosmographia, from kosmos + graphia graphy Date: 14th century 1. a general description of the world or of the universe 2. the …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cosmography — cosmographer, cosmographist, n. cosmographic /koz meuh graf ik/, cosmographical, adj. cosmographically, adv. /koz mog reuh fee/, n., pl. cosmographies. 1. a science that describes and maps the main features of the heavens and the earth, including …   Universalium

  • cosmography — noun a) The creation of maps of the universe. b) The study of the size and geometry of the universe and changes in those with cosmic time. See Also: cosmogony, cosmology …   Wiktionary

  • COSMOGRAPHY —    any theory which attempts to trace the system of things back to its first principle or primordial element or elements …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • cosmography — cos mog·ra·phy || grÉ™fɪ n. study of universe or world; representation of the main features of the universe; science that describes the general features of the universe …   English contemporary dictionary

  • cosmography — noun (plural cosmographies) 1》 the branch of science which deals with the general features of the universe, including the earth. 2》 a description or representation of the universe or the earth. Derivatives cosmographer noun cosmographic adjective …   English new terms dictionary

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