Andreas Cellarius - Antique Atlas of the Geocentric Ptolemaic Cosmos, “Harmonia Macrocosmica”, 1660.
Orbiting a large central Earth, the Planets are depicted as Star-like shapes, each identified with its traditional Symbol. The Zodiac, divided into twelve thirty-degree divisions of Celestial longitude, defines the apparent path of the Sun through the Constellations as seen from Earth. The axis of the Universe is defined by the Terrestrial poles, and the Earth’s equator is projected outward, creating a Celestial equator as well. Ptolemy himself might be represented by one of the figures on the lower right, in a crumbling Alexandria, possibly also symbolic of the decline of his Cosmological design, following the revolutionary findings of Copernicus.
In the ancient world, the Circle was seen as the ideal form, so it influenced the view of the Solar System and the vision of heavens. Ptolemy’s geocentric model, which was the prevailing view of the Solar System and Earth’s place in it for over 1400 years (until debunked by Copernicus), held that the Earth was static at the centre of the Universe, with all other bodies revolving around it in perfect circles. In the Ptolemaic system, the planets are assumed to move in a small circle called an epicycle, while epicycles rotated along a larger circle called a deferent, which in turn rotated around the Earth. The Earth then was like as the central hub of the Cosmos, everything else orbiting it eastward in uniform motion. This allowed Ptolemy to explain planetoids retrograde motion - the point at which planets seem to double back on their orbits at certain points in the year. With circles turning on circles at somepoint they seem to double back on themselves, which creates the idea of the spirograph like pattern in the design.