Beantwortung verschiedener Fragen über die Beschaffenheit, Bewegung und Würckung der Cometen. - Fortgesetzte Beantwortung der Fragen über die Beschaffenheit, Bewegung und Würkung der Cometen.
Berlin: Ambrosius Haude, 1744.
1st Edition. Soft cover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Very Good. Item #003459
I. [EULER, Leonhard]. Beantwortung verschiedener Fragen über die Beschaffenheit, Bewegung und Würckung der Cometen. - Fortgesetzte Beantwortung der Fragen über die Beschaffenheit, Bewegung und Wücrkung der Cometen. Two parts in one volume. Berlin: Ambrosius Haude, 1744. 56; 92,  pp., including woodcut device to each title, woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces, errata leaf and 3 folding engraved plates bound at end. [Bound before:] II. WIEDEBURG, J. B. Astronomisches Bedenken ueber die Frage Ob der bevorstehende Untergang der Welt natürliger Weise entstehen ins besondere durch Annäherung eines Cometen zur Erden werde befördert werden . . . Nebst einer vollständigen Nachricht des Cometen welcher vom December des 1743sten Jahres an noch jetzo erscheinet. Jena: Johann Adam Melchior, 1744. , 200 pp. Engraved frontispiece showing constellation and comet trajectory as of January 3, woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces. 8vo (187 x 125 mm). Original paper wrappers, pages uncut at bottom and fore-edge (cover paper partially split and chipped at joints and spine ends, paper soiled and creased). Text and plates somewhat browned and dust-soiled at outer margins, occasional minor spotting mostly to margins, the first folding plate frayed at fore-edge. Provenance: Bibliothek des Ärztlichen Vereins zu Lübeck (ink stamp to first title), Stadtbibliothek Lübeck (stamps to inner front cover and first title verso). Very good, unsophisticated copy. ----
I. Brüning, Bibliographie der Kometenliteratur, 1675 (without having seen it); Eneström 67 and 68. - EXCEPTIONALLY RARE FIRST EDITION, anonymously published by Euler on the occasion of the appearance of the great comet of 1744 (Comet C / 1743 X1, Klinkenberg-Chéseaux), which at that time could be observed with the naked eye. In this tract Euler describes all the aspects of comets of contemporary interest. "In particular, he distinguishes comets from fixed stars on the basis of their respective appearances in a telescope. He also argues that the Earth must have been similar to a comet at the time of its creation. Euler says that observation alone is not enough to determine whether the solid of a comet rotates, and that the tail of a comet is a great collection of dust particles that are driven from the core of the comet by the sun's rays and are then gathered together behind the comet where they reflect sunlight. He urges extreme caution in attributing the appearance of comets to the wrath of God and argues that even though comets can cause perturbations in the Earth's orbit, none have come close enough to do so; moreover, none ever will because, if this were to happen, there might be a flood or a destruction of the Earth, and the Bible says that this will not happen." (Euler Archive - All Works. 67 online resources, based on Eric Aiton's introduction to Opera Omnia Series II, Volume 31.)
At the end of the second part, among other things (pp. 71-84): "Folgende cometische Observationes sind von einem geschickten Frauenzimmer gemacht, welche dem Verleger ohngefähr zu Händen gekommen (etc.)" (The following comet observations have been made by a skilful woman, which the publisher almost came across). It is the first print of the comet observations by Margaretha Kirch, a daughter of the astronomers Gottfried Kirch and Maria Margaretha Kirch, who first saw the comet on January 3rd. The engraved plates depict the comet's orbit from January 3rd (with figurative constellations) and diagrams based on observations made on March 5th and 7th.
II. Brüning, Bibliographie der Kometenliteratur, 1705. - RARE SECOND EDITION published in the year of the first edition. In addition, Melchior published a new and expanded edition.
The spectacular comet of 1744 was observed during 1743 and 1744. It was discovered independently in late November 1743 by Jan de Munck and in December by Dirk Klinkenberg and Jean-Philippe de Chéseaux. The comet became visible with the naked eye for several months in 1744 and displayed dramatic and unusual effects in the sky. Its absolute magnitude of 0.5 was the sixth highest in recorded history. Its apparent magnitude may have reached as high as -7, leading it to be classified among what are called the "Great Comets". This comet is noted especially for developing a 'fan' of six tails after reaching its perihelion. On March 9, Chéseaux was the last known observer of the comet in the northern hemisphere, but it remained visible until April 22 in the southern hemisphere. Among those who saw the comet was the thirteen-year-old Charles Messier, on whom it had a profound and inspirational effect. He went on to become a significant figure in astronomy, and later discovered many comets during his observations. Euler itself, stimulated by the appearance of the great comet of 1744 developed new methods to determine the orbits of planets and comets resulting in his first major astronomical publication in book form, the Theoria motuum planetarum et cometarum of 1744, in which he mathematically treats the "two-body problem" (the problem of determining the motion of two spherical bodies under their mutual gravitational attraction).
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