Cölln an der Spree (Berlin): Ulrich Liebpert, Königl. Preuss. Hof-Buchdruckerei, 1712.
1st Edition. Soft cover. 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. Very Good. Item #003470
4to (212 x 167 mm). 24 pp., 1 folding engraved plate, woodcut initials and headpieces. Signatures: A-C4. Near contemporary simple paper wrappers (dust soiled, minor edge chipping and fraying). Text somewhat browned and spotted, minor marginal dust-soiling to title and final page. ----
EXCEPTIONALLY RARE AND ONLY EDITION of the first known women astronomer who discovered a comet (comet C/1702 H1). Maria Margaretha Kirch (born Winkelmann) was the youngest of three daughters of the Lutheran pastor Matthias Winkelmann (+1682) and the book and cloth merchant's daughter Maria Töllner (+1683). The father is said to have awakened and promoted her interest in astronomy . . . Presumably as a servant, Maria Margaretha joined the household of the peasant astronomer Christoph Arnold and friend of Justinus Töllner, where she acquired basic knowledge and experience in the field of astronomical observations and where she met her future husband, the widowed astronomer and calendar maker Gottfried Kirch. Kirch gave Arnold lessons in astronomy and made observations with him. In May 1692 she married Gottfried Kirch, whom she supported with the observations and calculations . . . Maria Margaretha Kirch discovered the comet of 1702, making it the first woman to discover a comet. She also made observations on the variable star Mira Ceti. The discovery of the comet had been published by her husband, but in the year of his death Kirch referred to his wife's achievement in an academic pamphlet. Encouraged by this, she applied to succeed her husband at the Academy of Sciences, but after a long-lasting deliberation, her petition was rejected by the Executive Council in 1712 because of her gender. Gottfried Leibniz, the president of the Academy at that time was alone in supporting her petition. In 1712 she published about the upcoming great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, a well-received pamphlet in which she also predicted a new comet. Kirch continued her astronomical research at the observatory of Baron von Krosigk until his death in 1714. During this time she compiled astronomical calendars for the cities of Wroclaw and Nuremberg and published other observations. From 1716 she was allowed to work again at the Academy of Sciences this time as assistant to her son Christfried Kirch, but in the following year she was banned from the academy's premises due to her scientific expertise. She died a few years later. (Source: Wikipedia).
This treatise is of exceptional rarity. OCLC locates but four copies worldwide: two in Germany (Univ. Bibl. Münster, Deutsches Museum München), one in the U.K. (NLS Edinburgh), and one in the USA (Duke Univ. Durham).
References: Poggendorff I, 1258; DSB VII, 373f; Londa Schiebinger, Maria Winkelmann at the Berlin Academy: A Turning point for women in science; in: ISIS 78 (1987), pp. 174-200; Emily Winterburn, 6 women who changed astronomy and spaceflight, BBC SkyatNight Magazine, Immediate Media Company Ltd 2021 (online resource). - Visit our website to see more images!
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