The astrologer contemplates his arcane books and a device for calculating the position of the planets on a given date, but death hold a skull before him, seeming to say: contemplate this instead. A skull was a common memento mori during the middle ages. Holbein's illustration from the Dance of Death may be a subtle critique of astrological science in that the astrologer purports to be able to predict the future, yet is ignorant of his own impending doom.
It is also interesting that the astrologer is clearly wealthy: note his rich clothes and the ornate table. He has obviously been successful at his craft, but all his skill and knowledge of astrology means nothing.
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Holbein - the Dance of Death.