Gdansk: Simon Reiniger for the author, 1668.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Folio - over 12 - 15" tall. Near Fine. Item #003164
Folio (349 x 224 mm). , 913,  pp., including half-title, additional engraved pictorial title-page after A. Stech by E. Visscher, letterpress title, 38 engraved plates (4 double-page) numbered A-OO, engraved illustrations throughout, 2 engraved ornamental initials, 2 engraved historiated headpieces, engraved allegorical roundel, ornamental woodcut initials and tailpieces, typographic headpieces. Without the initial blank. Signatures: [a]4 b-e4 A-6E4 (-a1 blank). Bound in 18th-century sprinkled calf, spine with 6 raised bands, compartments with gilt decoration and a gilt-lettered morocco label, gilt tooling to boards and board edges, marbled endpapers, red-sprinkled edges (rebacked preserving most of original spine, boards somewhat scratched). Half-title little soiled and stained, upper corner of leaf F2 and lower corner of Dd2 torn not affecting text, small hole from paper flaw in leaf o1 (affecting 2 letters of text) and plate FF (not affecting image), 2 tears in plate Z with old repair, light dampstains at blank margin of approx. 6 leaves, very minor occasional spotting and age-toning only. A fine, handsome copy. ----
FIRST EDITION OF HEVELIUS'S ACCLAIMED STUDY OF COMETS AND HIS SECOND GREAT WORK after the Selenographia. The Cometographia advocated the idea that the motions of comets are fundamentally parabolic. "One of the major works of Hevelius, which had been almost fifteen years in preparation. The first book gives the observational data on the Comet of 1652, the subsequent two books attempt to prove the existence of comets far beyond the atmosphere of the earth. The fourth book gives a detailed account of the actual parallax of the Comet of 1652, while the fifth book deals with the true position of the comet and its distance from the earth. The subsequent books are concerned with the tail of the comet, its size and its structure. A description of the comets of 1661, 1664, and 1665 is followed by a complete listing of about four hundred comets known from ancient times up to 1665" (B.Y.U.).
"The Danzig brewer and astronomer Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687), in his monumental work Cometographia of 1668, discussed comets thoroughly and brought the various theories that previously existed into a single overall picture ... Like Kepler, Hevelius initially adopted a linear motion, but later established that curved paths must be involved, and that comets moved fastest when near the Sun. He took parabolas or hyperbolas as the probable form of orbit. Hevelius supported the view that comets themselves were disc-shaped and lay at right-angles to the Sun. They arose in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn by the transpiration of vapours - a reflection of the then common view that such vapours were to be found on many heavenly bodies: as spots on the Sun, for example. Hevelius chose Jupiter and Saturn on the basis of the colour of comets. The tail was formed from particles ejected from the core of the comet, and which were then swept away from the head by the Sun." (R. Stoyan, Atlas of Great Comets. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015, p.28).
The fine engraved title-page includes a view of Hevelius's observation platform, as well as a depiction of Hevelius "sitting at a table with a cometary orbit shown as a conic section combined with a spiral, the sun at the focus of the former. By contrast, a figure of Aristotle holds an illustration of some linear and sublunary cometary paths" (DSB). Of Hevelius's two great works, Cometographia is much the rarer. We can trace 5 copies only that have sold at auction in the past 30 years. References: B.Y.U. Catalogue/Hevelius 10; Honeyman sale 4:1674; DSB VI, p.362. - Visit our website for additional images and information.
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