f85v  LEFT


f85v. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. 


I suggest that the subject matter on this page is primarily SN 1572, the supernova observed and extensively recorded by Tycho Brahe (although first observed by Maurolycus, abbot of Messina around  November 6th).  Tycho observed the new star from Herrevad Abbey near Knudstrup in Skåne, sometime after sunset and before dinner, after finishing his days work in the observatory and alchemical laboratory his uncle had built. This would continue the subject matter of supernovae and along with later folios suggests that the prime comparison is between these two supernovae and does not encompass Kepler’s supernova of 1604, which followed shortly after the death of Tycho.  More specifically, a contrast between the work of Tycho Brahe and the earlier Chinese observation of SN 1054, possibly from data brought back by Jesuits from China in the 17th century, or a much later work when it was realised that the two events were the same phenomenon.  Other supernovae have been visible to the naked eye and recorded, these include supernovae in Lupus, Scorpius and Centaurus, along with Kepler’s supernova in Orphichus they are all located under the feet of Virgo and the inclusion of Virgo may be important for this reason even if the other supernovae are not directly referred to.  I also note that one possibility has been put forward for the star of Bethlehem being a nova as recorded in China around March – April 5 BC near alpha-Cap in the constellation of Capricorn, if so the controversial subject matter could explain the sudden stopping/removing of the zodiac pages at Capricorn.  The Chinese recorded the nova in the book “Ch’ien-han-shu” as a “Ko-hsing” referring to a comet rather than the usual label of guest star “Hui-hsing”, but the terms are not exact and it was said to be stationary for at least 2 ½ months.  It appeared in the Chinese lunar mansion 9, “Niú” (Ox) of the “Dark warrior (tortoise) of the North”, it is in a very dim area of the sky the nearest bright star being Altair (the cowherd “Niulang”).  This bright star Altair I suggest is also portrayed in the Voynich Manuscript on f86r.


The event of SN 1572 was recorded in five Chinese records also from November 8th.  Tycho and did not seem to have any idea of the origin of the phenomenon or connect what he had observed with much earlier observations. At the time of Tycho such an occurrence was likened to the star of Bethlehem or an event ascribed to Hipparchus in the 2nd century BC, indeed beyond the moon the stars were thought to be eternally fixed and unchanging.

Kepler however compared SN 1604 to the event that Tycho had witnessed and debated the origins of the star of Bethlehem, but no further mention of earlier supernovae.  The Chinese observations of a possible supernova in 1181 AD in Cassiopeia could be included within f85v also without being obvious.


It would be possible that a contemporary of Tycho’s at some stage had possession of data from Tycho and the Jesuits (although the main Chinese work containing “Guest stars” the “Wen-Heing-Tong-Kao” was not translated until 1846 by Biot.) and grasped the common origin but  for some reason was not able to make it public, this would be plausible in the case of a noble person or woman of the time.  The suggestion that Kepler’s supernova so close to the event does not appear to get a look in (although lost pages could contain such data) would suggest someone close and loyal to Tycho, maybe even his beloved sister Sophie who had the background in astronomy (and botany/medicine more successfully than Tycho) and had managed to retain some of her Brothers data before it fell into Keplers hands after the death of her brother.  If it was coded it could not fall into Kepler’s hands or those of his other rivals, but also she would not outshine the memory of her beloved brother and preserve him as the greatest astronomer before the “Age of reason” and the telescope.  She lived to see the impact the telescope and microscope made on science but died in 1643, and any suggestion of the inclusion of constellations in the manuscript invented around 1700 AD would knock her out as a candidate unless the manuscript was worked on jointly with another who outlived her.  This is only one possibility, and the work of Tycho on his “Stella nova” was publically available as were details of the island of Ven (Hveen), Uraniborg and Stjerneborg, giving the details of his work I suggest to be in the Voynich manuscript a wider group of people beyond Sophie Brahe as possible authors.


The observation of the Crab Nebula by  John Brevis in 1731 and officially appeared in his Uranographia Britannica (published posthumously in  1786) was the start of the understanding of nebula and their origins as supernova, though whether the supernova remnant is actually the 'Crab Nebula' is debated and was not first suggested that they were connected until the 1920’s (Lundmark, “Suspected New Stars Recorded in Old Chronicles and Among Recent Meridian Observations”, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, v. 33, p.225).  First possible observations of the remnant of Tycho’s supernova were not until 1952 (Radio emissions of the location observed by Hanbury Brown and Hazard, as found in, “Radio emission from the remnants of the supernovae of 1572 and 1604”, Baldwin, J. E. & Edge, D. O. The Observatory, Vol. 77, p. 139-143 (1957)).  These detailed observations and understandings of supernova lie outside the normal accepted dating of the manuscript as around the 16th century and are even after the manuscript first appeared.


 I suggest the figures are constellations relevant to the position of the supernova and the long wave like arms may be relevant to the correct positioning of the constellations.  The time of observation of SN 1572 is given by Tycho as “after sunset” (which on that day was at 3.48 PM) and before dinner.  At 5 PM the sky was still too bright to observe stars, around 6 PM stars were becoming noticeably visible in the sky.  Wondering if the time may be built in to the image  the sun in a dark sky indicating “after sunset”, I have settled on an exact time of 6.10 PM  for the purposes of reproducing a star map of the event, the 6 from the nodes around the “figure” circle and the 10 from the markings on the innermost circle, to see there may be a correlation.


This is the sky map of the event that I will refer to, situated near to Knudstrup at 6.10 PM on 11th November 1572.  The horizon has been slightly lowered to allow the zenith to be included.  SN 1572 has been placed centrally as it was described as being high, almost overhead in the north.  Taurus where SN 1054 was located has been added for reference.


 Credit:  Redshift6.  Sky showing positions of Cepheus, Cassipeia, Andromeda, Taurus and Virgo.


I suggest the constellations of Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda and Virgo may be shown, the figure representing Cassiopeia holding the orb representing the new star. 



f85v, cropped. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. 


The figure is pointing, wears a blue tunic and a turban crown or other head wear.  I suggest this may be Cepheus.  Astronomical images varied greatly over time but the crown is common in many images of Cepheus.  I suggest the images are representative and not supposed to be exact copies of any star map image as they have been posed in a way relevant to the subject matter and needs of the Voynich Manuscript author to portray information.


Cassiopeia with stella nova?

f85v, cropped. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. 



I suggest this is Cassiopeia, who is always shown seated (but we cannot see her bottom half here).  She often has a palm in her hand, but not in the older images.  In the oldest images she just has arms outstretched but is still seated.  Her hair is unusually short, but no shorter than the other figures on this folio and the blue curve on her forehead is the same shape as what appears to be a crown on the Cepheus figure above and reinforces this as Cassiopeia the queen.  In this scenario she reaches out to touch the new star.  The structure coming out of the top of the orb may represent the Galactic Equator and Celestial Zero Meridian, which it was very close to, the Milky Way running through it and the Meridian curving over it.



f85v, cropped. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. 


 I suggest this may be Andromeda, always seen with chains in later images in star maps but in early images just with outspread arms or tied to wooden poles. The object in her (our) left hand may be a chain ring side on, or a page marker.



f85v, cropped. Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. 


I suggest this may be Virgo.  The only other female images in the constellations are Andromeda and Cassiopeia (already accounted for). Virgo often holds a spike of grain or flower, she is also often winged but not always and not in the zodiac image in the Voynich Manuscript where she is shown wingless and holding a star with a flower at her feet.  Although all the sky atlases I have examined even the oldest have a winged Virgo constellation  Many depictions of Virgo in calendars/books of hours, zodiacs carved in wood or stone, and medical zodiac-men and are mostly wingless dating back to Medieval times.  The images may be deliberately drawn to give the manuscript the look of a medical astrology book in order to throw the casual reader of the true suggested subject of astronomy, and particularly supernovae and the “immutable” heavens.  Her position opposite Cassiopeia is correct in a horizon-based view of the sky.


As there are only three female images in the constellations and Andromeda is clearly the only chained one, the choice of the bottom figure holding the flower/grain spike as Virgo and the figure with the orb as Cassiopeia with the new star makes more sense than Virgo holding the orb.  A comparison with SN 1054 in this setting is clearly possible as it’s location is positioned on the horizon at this time, almost directly below SN 1572 and also seen to be located in connection with the Milky Way. 


The figures on f85v are shown round a circle and not as seen in the sky.  The Celestial Zero Meridian is an important feature near the supernova and these constellations and if they are spread around the circle evenly they appear in the same position as on f85v.  Cepheus, Cassiopeia and Andromeda are next to each other more or less in a line with Virgo below Cassiopeia on the actual star map.  Below is a merged image showing how I suggest the Voynich circular image relates to the star map, based on the circle representing the Celestial Zero Meridian.  Virgo remains opposite Cassiopeia and Cepheus and Andromeda remain on either side of Cassiopeia on the Celestial Zero Meridian.  The circle appears to be centred on Sirius and if the side on “chain link” in Andromeda’s right hand is treated as a marker it points through the South-east, through Sirius and the centre of this circle, and close to Venus on the other side.  The eyes of the sun in the centre look at the correct position of SN 1054 but as the “sun” is specifically shown in a dark sky it may refer to a bright star rather than the sun which does not appear in a dark night sky.


f85v, cropped with overlay by P. Han.  Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University and Redshift 6. Pink circle is the complete Celestial Zero Meridian; it has been placed as closely as possible over the circle of figures in the Voynich image and divided into quarters representing the location of the figures.  The Yellow lines show the actual relation of these constellations, retaining the position of Cassiopeia and the supernova as the prime objective.  The position of SN 1054 has also been marked as located on the star map.


 The markers on the page are shown below from the same viewpoint.  The very narrow angle between the two markers is very similar to the narrow angle between the actual locations of SN 1054 and SN 1572 as viewed through the eyes of the sun in the centre. 


f85v, cropped with overlay by P. Han.   Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Page markers shown.  The positions of SN 1054 and SN 1572 are shown for comparison.


The comparisons made to real star maps makes it appear all too complex to be an actual solution to the image, but it is really extremely simple.  If the figures are identified as certain constellations (from clues in the images) and placed in their actual positions, they all appear to be pointing to or reaching for the orb, the new star, SN 1572.  The page markers as always I suggest give more complex information.


f85v, cropped with overlay by P. Han.  Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University and Redshift 6. 



The wave like lines are quite strange.  The top left appears to cut through the west, the top right and bottom left though the east and the bottom right through SN 10545.  The wave like curls at the ends may indicate that the figures need to be rotated or flipped.


f85v, cropped with overlay by P. Han.   Voynich Manuscript. Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University and Redshift 6. 




Copyright © 2010 P. Han