So what does the painting mean? What is its message? What story does it tell?
It is thought to be painted some time between 1650 and 1659. What was going on in history at that time? And what did the painter know of the developments in science and astronomy in his day? What did he know of Ptolemy, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo?
Why is the astronomer studying by candlelight? Why does he have a sand clock nearby? Why does he have a glass bottle of water/clear liquid nearby? Why does he have a compass and an old text book? Why is he dressed as he is? Why is there a cherub in the picture? Why is he under some kind of arch?
What is the significance of it all?