Astronomy (July 2020)

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Charting Comets & Renaming the Constellations

ASTRONOMY. COMETS. Weigel, Erhard (1625–1699)
Speculum Uranicum / Aquilae Romanae Sacrum / Das ist / Himels Spiegel / darinnen ausser denen ordentlichen auch die ungewöhnli- chen Erscheinungen des Himmels / mit gebührender Anführungen abgebildet / vornemlich aber 7 der im Gestirne des Adlers / jüngst- hin entstandene Comet / nebst einer neuen Himmels-Charte unter dem Adler des H. Römischen Reiches / dargestellt wird / von Erhardo VVeigelio, ...

Jena: bey Samuel Krebsen, in Verlegung Thomas Matthias Götzen, 1661


Quarto: 19.8 x 16 cm. [128] p. π1, ):(4, A-M4, a-c4

A rare astronomical work by the astronomer Erhard Weigel, a teacher of Gottfried W. Leibniz. The engraved frontispiece shows a man holding a telescope, standing before the University of Jena, with other astronomical instruments (quadrants, sextants, a globe, etc.


Zinner p. 582; Poggendorff II, 1283; Kenney 20; Brüning 1061; Pogg. II, 1283; Struve 17; Bircher A1193; FdF 1506-07; not in Hou-zeau-L.; Lit.: Klaus-Dieter Herbst (ed.). Erhard Weigel (1625–1699) und die Wissenschaften. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang 2013

The Controversy over the use of Telescopic Sights. Hevelius observes the Skies with Edmond Halley Two Months Before his Observatory is Lost to Fire

ASTRONOMY. Hevelius, Johannes (1611-1687)
Johannis Hevelii Annus climactericus, sive Rerum uranicarum observationum annus quadragesimus nonus; exhibens diversas occultationes, tam planetarum, quàm fixarum post editam machinam coelestem; nec non plurimas altitudines meridianas solis, ac distantias planetarum, fixarumq́ue, eo anno, quousque divinaconcessit benignitas, impetratas: cum amicorum nonnullorum epistolis, ad rem istam spectantibus: & continuatione historiae novæ stellæ in collo Ceti, ut & annotationum rerum coelestium ...

Danzig: Sumptibus auctoris, typis D.F. Rhetii, 1685


Folio: 34.8 x 22.5 cm. [6] lvs. 24, 196 pp. Collation: )( 6, )(4, )()(4, )()()(4, A-Z4, AA6. With engraved title page vignette and 7 (1 double-page) engraved plates.

“Annus Climactericus” was the last of Hevelius’ works published in the author’s lifetime. The book comprises observations of the planets, sun, moon, and fixed stars, many of which were made alongside the English astronomer Edmond Halley. The observations were made from 8 January until 25 September 1679, subsequent to the publication of the second volume of Hevelius’ “Machina Coelestis”, almost the entire press run of which was lost in the fire that destroyed Hevelius’ observatory on 26 September 1679.


VD17 39:125045B; DSB 6, 363; Honeyman 1675. For a thorough discussion of the Hevelius-Hooke controversy, see Saridakis, “Converging Elements in the Development of Late Seventeenth-Century Disciplinary Astronomy: Instrumentation, Education, and the Hevelius-Hooke Controversy”, p. 129 ff.; For an assessment of the relative accuracy of Halley’s and Hevelius’ computations at Danzig, see Cook, “Edmond Halley: Charting the Heavens and the Seas”, p. 93 ff.; For Hevelius’ work on the binary star Mira Ceti, see Hatch, “Hevelius- History and Identity”, in “Change and Continuity in Early Modern Cosmology”, p 158 ff.; For D. Capellus’ contemporary account of the fire and a detailed inventory of Hevelius’ losses, see MacPike, “Hevelius, Flamsteed, Halley”, Appendix I. (London, 1937)

Praised by Copernicus in Book I of the ‘De Revolutionibus’ for Capella’s Model of Heliocentric Orbits

Capella, Martianus Minneus Felix. (circa 420-490), Edited by Franciscus Vitalis Bodianus.
Opus Martiani. Capellae de Nuptiis Philologiae & Mercurii libri duo. De Grammatica. Liber. Tertius. De Dialectica. Liber. Quartus. De Rhetorica. Liber. Quintus. De Geometria. Liber. Sextus. De Arithmetica. Liber. Septimus. De Astronomia. Liber. Octavus. De Musica. Liber. Nonus.

Modena, Dionysius Bertochus, 15 May, 1500


Bound with:

Hyginus, C. Julius (1st century A.D.); Aratus, of Soli. (c. 315-c. 245 B.C.); Proclus Diadochus (ca. 410-484)

Fabularum Liber, Ad Omnium Poetarum Lectionem Mire necessarius, & nunc denuo excusus: Eiusdem Poeticon Astronomicon Libri quatuor. Quibus accesserunt similis argumenti, Palaephati de fabulosis narrationibus, Liber I.


I. Goff C-118; Hain 4371*; Klebs 668.2; Smith (Rara Arithmetica) p. 67; Pell 3225; IGI 2427; Pr 7215; BMC VII 1068 (IB 31860). II. Wellcome I, 3377; Zinner 1592

Observing Kirch's & Newton’s Comet

COMETS. Hagen, Joachim Heinrich
Joachim Heinrich Hagens / eloqv. poes. et mathes. Prof. Publ. / Bemerkung / der jüngsten grossen / Comet - Erscheinungen / auf Hoch= Fürstlichen gnädigsten Befehl / verabfasst und hervorgegeben.

Bayreut(h): Johann Gebhard, im Christ Jahr 1681


Quarto (200 x 160 mm.) [8], 79 p. Collation: ):(4, A-K4

An extremely rare work on the great comet of 1680 with references to Riccioli, Hevelius, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Descartes, et al. by a friend and pupil of the mathematician & astronomer Erhard Weigel (1625 – 1699). I have located only 1 copy outside of Germany (at the Adler Planetarium.


VD17 12:161198H; Brüning 1410; Robinson no. 22; Reiss XXXXVI, 814. KVK: München, Erlangen, Coburg, Heidelberg, Göttingen, Leipzig, Halle; outside Germany exceedingly rare with only one copy at Adler Planetarium.

Fine’s Astronomical & Mathematical Magnum Opus

Finé, Oronce (1494-1555)
Protomathesis opus uarium, ac scitu non minus utile quàm iucundum, nunc primùm in lucem foeliciter emissum: cuius index uniuersalis, in uersa pagina continetur.

Paris: Impensis Gerardi Morrhij & Ioannis Petri, 1532


Large Folio: 33.5 x 24 cm. Collation: AA8, A-L6, M-N6, O-Z8, Aa-Bb8, Cc6, Dd8 (including both blanks, F8 and N6.) Complete.

The “Protomathesis”, a universally acclaimed monument of book production and design, is profusely illustrated. The book is introduced by a fine architectural title page border with a lunette of Hercules defeating the Lernean Hydra. This is followed by the well-known full-page image of the goddess of astronomy, Urania, lecturing Finé, who holds a book and an astrolabe, beneath a spherical model of the solar system.


Hoover 312, Lalande, p. 50; Smith, Rara Arithmetica, pp. 160-61; Stillwell, The Awakening Interest in Science during the First Century of Printing, 838

“Perhaps the First to Use a Keplerian Telescope for Regular Planetary Observation” (King)

Fontana, Francesco (1602-1656)
Novae Coelestium Terrestriumq[ue] Rerum Observationes, et fortasse hactenus non vulgatae à Francisco Fontana, specillis a se inventis, et ad summam perfectionem perductis editae.

Naples: Apud Gaffarum, Mense Februarii, 1646


A truly remarkable work, the  “Observationes” has been called the first true lunar atlas (preceding that of Hevelius by one year.) Moreover, the work includes the first illustrations of the planet Mars made from telescopic observation (in 1636 and 1638). The first chapter includes a very early history of the telescope. Fontana claims to have invented both the “Keplerian” telescope (composed of two convex lenses) in 1608, and the compound microscope (consisting of two converging lenses, one functioning as objective, the other as eyepiece) in 1618; while his claims to have invented these instruments have been proven untrue, Fontana did in fact construct and use both of these instruments and with them he observed Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon; as well as fleas, flies, ants, bees and human hairs.


Carli and Favaro 211; Houzeau and Lancaster II, 1328; Riccardi I/1 467 (‘raro ed apprezzato’); Literature: King, The History of the Telescope p. 46; Clay, The History of the Microscope p. 9; Ashworth, The Face of the Moon: Galileo to Apollo, p. 4)

Including Two of the Most Important Books in Early Observational Astronomy: Galileo's "Starry Messenger" and Kepler's "Dioptrice"

Gassendi, Pierre (1592-1655); Galilei, Galileo (1564-1642); Kepler, Johannes (1571-1630)
Petri Gassendi Institutio Astronomica: Juxta Hypotheseis tam Veterum quàm Recentiorum. Cui accesserunt Galilei Galilei Nuncius Sidereus; et Johannis Kepleri Dioptrice. Tertia editio prioribus Correctior.

London: typis Jacobi Flesher. Prostant apud Gulielmum Morden, bibliopolam Cantabrigiensem, 1653


Octavo: 18 x 11.5 cm. [16], 199, [1]; 173, [1] p., 4 leaves of plates : ill., diagrams (woodcuts). Collation: A-N8, O4; A-L8 (lacking final blank)

Gassendi's "Institutio Astronomica," has been called the first modern astronomy textbook. It is divided into three sections: the first details the so-called theory of the spheres, the second describes astronomical theory, and the third discusses the conflicting ideas of Brahe and Copernicus. The present edition is important for the inclusion of two seminal works of telescopic astronomy: Galileo's "Sidereus Nuncius" (first ed.


Wing G291 (with the comma in line 3 of the title); Cinti, 128; Riccardi, I, col. 508; Sotheran, I p. 73 (1448); cf. PMM 113 and Dibner, Heralds of Science, #7 (the 1610 edition)

The First Printed Illustrations of the Constellations

Hyginus, Caius Julius (fl. 2nd century)
Poeticon astronomicon. Edited by Jacobus Sentinus and Johannes Lucilius Santritter.

Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 14 October, 1482


Quarto: 19 x 14 cm. Collation: a-f8 g10 (a1 blank, a2r dedication to M. Fabius [Quintilianus?], a3r text, g9r commendatory poem by Jacobus Sentinus, g10r poem and verse colophon by Johannes Santritter, g10v blank). 58 leaves. 31 lines.

The “Poeticon Astronomicon” (more correctly, the “Astronomica”) is an ancient Roman work on the constellations chiefly based on the work of the Greek scientist Eratosthenes (3rdc. B.C.). The work was traditionally attributed to the first century writer C.


BMC V, 286; BSB-Ink H-459; CIBN H-334; Essling 285; Goff H-560; HC 9062*; Hind II, p. 462; IGI 4959; Klebs 527.2; Pollard/Perrins 31; Redgrave 30; Sander 3472

Astrological Medicine & A Theory of Tides

MEDICINE. ASTROLOGY. PHYSICS. Grisogono, Federico [Federik Grisogono Bartolačić](b. Zadar, Dalmatia, Yugoslavia, 1472; d. Zadar, 2 January 1538)
De modo collegiandi: pronosticandi: & curandi febres: necnon de humana felicitate: ac denique de fluxu & refluxu maris: lucubrationes nuperrime in lucem edite.

Venice: Impressum a Joan. Anto. de Sabbio & fratribus, 1528


Folio: 30 x 21 cm. [56] p. Collation: A-G4

First editions of three works by the Dalmatian physician-scientist Federico Grisogono of Zara, who became professor of mathematics and astrology at Padua in 1499. The works concern: 1. Determining a treatment course for curing fevers with the aid of astrological prognostication. 2. A philosophical treatise on human happiness. 3. An influential theory of tides. The first work includes a full-page iatromathematical instrument, outfitted with three functioning volvelles, for making astrological (and other celestial) observations, medical forecasting, and creating horoscopes.


Edit16 21833; Sander 1946; Thorndike, History of magic, 5:314-316; USTC 834694

17th c. English Navigation - The Huth-Horblitt Copy

NAVIGATION. CARTOGRAPHY. ASTRONOMY. Seller, John (bap. 1632- d. 1697)
A Pocket Book Containing severall Choice Collections in Arithmetick, Astronomy, Geometry, Surveying, Dialling, Navigation, Astrology, Geography, Measuring, Gageing, By John Seller. Hydrographer to the King

London: sold by Iohn Seller. at his Shopp at the Hermitage Wapping, ? 1677


Octavo: 14 x 9 cm. Engraved title, 40 p. of letterpress, 74 lvs. of plates (see detailed note at end of this description), with 3 volvelles.

The map, navigational chart, and instrument maker John Seller is an important figure in the history of English cartography. He was granted a royal license to produce maritime atlases and charts and in 1671 was appointed hydrographer to the king. In that same year he produced "The English Pilot", which was followed by his "The Coasting Pilot" (1672) and "Atlas Maritimus" (1675).


STC R220989; Wing S2480A

Renaissance Science and its Medieval Antecedents

Sacrobosco, Johannes de (ca. 1195 – ca. 1256 A.D.); Regiomontanus, Johannes (1436-1476); Peurbach, Georg von (1423-1461)
Sphaera mundi [with] Johannes Regiomontanus: Disputationes contra Cremonensia deliramenta [and] Georg von Peurbach: Theoricae novae planetarum.

Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 6 July 1482


Quarto: 19.5 x 14.3 cm. 60 lvs. Collation: a-g8, h4. 30-31 lines, Gothic type

A fine copy of Erhard Ratdolt’s beautiful printing of Sacrobosco’s “Sphere”, the core astronomical textbook from the Middle Ages to the early 16th century. This edition is the first to include key texts by two of the most influential 15th c. astronomers: Johannes Regiomontanus and Georg Peurbach.

Working in the vein of the Renaissance humanists, Peurbach and his student Regiomontanus sought out the extant scientific writings of antiquity, the classical foundations of medieval European and Arabic science.


ISTC ij00405000; BMC V 286; Goff J405; Hain-Copinger 14110

The Jesuit Astronomical Observatory at Beijing. With 105 Double-Page Woodcuts of Astronomical Instruments & the Observatory

Verbiest, Ferdinand, S.J. (1623-1688)
Ling-t’ai I-hsiang t’u or Hsin-chih I-hsiang t’u [trans.: A Newly Made Collection of Astronomical Instruments]

[Beijing: presented to the Emperor 6 March 1674


Small folio, Two Volumes: 39.5 x 19.9 cm. 106 double-page woodcuts.

First edition, printed by the Jesuits in Beijing, of this magnificent woodcut book depicting the observatory and scientific instruments designed by the Jesuits for the emperor of China. This is a very rare book and one of the greatest masterpieces of Sino-European printing. This is one of only 46 copies known (of which 3 can no longer be located) and is 1 of only 2 copies known to still be in private hands.


Chapman, Allan, “Tycho Brahe in China: the Jesuit Mission in Peking and the Iconography of European Instrument-making Processes: in Annals of Science, Vol. 41 (1984), pp. 417-43–(gving a detailed technical exposition of the illustrations in this work). Cordier, Sinica, 1451. Golvers, Ferdinand Verbiest, S.J. (1623-1688) and the Chinese Heaven, no. LO 12 in his census. Sommervogel VIII, 575.

Zanotti, Eustachio (1709-1782)
Ephemerides motuum caelestium ex anno 1775 in annum 1786 ad meridianum Bononiae es Halleii tabulis supputatae.

Bologna: Ex typ. Lælii a Vulpe Instituti scientiarum impressoris, 1774


Quarto: 26.5 x 20 cm. VII, 384. With an engraved frontispiece, engraved title vignette, and 3 folding engraved plates.

In 1750 Zanotti produced a volume covering 1751-1762. In 1762 he published another volume for the years 1763-1774. This volume, for 1775-1786 was the last published in Zanotti’s lifetime. In 1786, his successor at the observatory, Petronio Mateucci, published a final volume for 1787-1798.

Like the astronomer Eustachio Manfredi, his godfather, Zanotti belonged to a prominent family distinguished in the arts, letters, and sciences.


Houzeau-L. 15537; Riccardi I/2, 655, 34; DSB XIV, 589