London: Printed for the Author, and sold by H. Chapelle, 1750.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. Near Fine. Item #002600
4to (286 x 226 mm). viii, , 84 pp. Engraved portrait frontispiece* of the author by Fourdrinier after G. Allen, title printed in red and black, 32 engraved plates (2 folding, 8 in mezzotint), wood-engraved initials, head- and tailpieces, with the errata- and list of subscribers leaves, without the final blank. Contemporary mottled calf, spine with 5 raised bands richly gilt in compartments and with gilt-lettered morocco label in first compartment (boards and extremities rubbed, corners bumped and scuffed). Internally very little age-toned, minor spotting to a few leaves only, light offsetting from frontispiece on title-page, tiny hole in plate 28 from paper flaw not affecting image. Provenance: inscribed monogram L.C.B. to front pastedown. An outstanding, bright and crisp copy with very broad margins. ----
Norman 2265; DSB XIV, p.518-9; Honeyman 3143; Gingerich, Rara Astronomica 53; Hoskin, J. for the History of Astronomy, 1, pp.44-52. RARE FIRST EDITION of this attempt at reconciling religion and science and establishing an understanding of the Milky Way. A book of considerable importance in the history of science. Wright first explained the Milky Way and the nebulae as external galaxies and provided the basis for the theories on the universe by Kant, Herschel and Laplace.
Wright, a teacher of navigation and a land surveyor by profession, "hypothesized a 'divine center' of the universe, corresponding to a gravitational center around which the sun and other stars orbited. He also proposed, as a possible explanation for the visual phenomenon of the Milky Way, a model of the universe in which the orbiting stars formed a flattened ring, this hypothesis caused Immanuel Kant, who did not realize that Wright's 'center' was supernatural, to credit Wright with originating a disk-shaped model of the galaxy" (Norman).
*The engraved portrait frontispiece is not called for in this work, but is part of Wright's earlier work Clavis coelestis (London, 1742).
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