Title page from Ptolemy's 'Almagest', 1496.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
'The Almagest' by Ptolemy of Alexandria (c 90-168 AD) was one of the most influential scientific works in history. It first appeared c 150 AD, and described the Ptolemaic system of astronomy and geography. His famous summary of Greek astronomical ideas and his theories of the universe dominated western ideas until the time of Copernicus (1473-1543), fourteen centuries later. The Ptolemaic system put the Earth at the centre of the universe with the planets revolving around it. Georg von Peurbach (1423-1461) started editing and translating the work which was completed by his pupil Johannes Regiomontanus (1436-1476). This volume reintroduced Greek astronomy and its theories of the universe to the west, in Latin, the language all scholars could read.