Lambert's very rare monograph on comets
Insigniores orbitae cometarum proprietates.
Augsburg: Eberhard Klett, 1761.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Very Good. Item #003773
8vo (180 x 110 mm). , 128,  pp., woodcut device to title, woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces; 2 unnumbered leaves with letterpress tables and 2 engraved folding plates bound at end. Signatures: )(4, A-H8, [chi]2. Contemporary half calf and sprinkled paper-coated boards, spine with gilt-lettered label, black-sprinkled edges, original endpapers (spine ends scuffed, corners worn and bumpled, boards and extremities rubbed). Outer margins of endpapers, title and final plate a bit browned from binder's glue; light even age-toning throughout. Provenance: Luigi Gabba (inscribed on first flyleaf), bibliotheque P. G. Phelip (engraved bookplate mounted on verso of title). A very good copy in untouched binding of the time. ----
EXCEPTIONALLY RARE FIRST EDITION of Lambert's theory describing the movement of comets for the area of a focal sector of a conic in terms of the chord and bounding radii.
In the Insigniores Lambert introduces the method for the determination of the orbit of comets for the case of parabolic orbits on the basis of three astronomical observations. This method was brought into its final form by Wilhelm Olbers in 1797. In the first part, Lambert states general theorems about the parabola; in the second part, on the "principal properties of the parabolic motion of comets," he demonstrates the four laws of motion of celestial bodies moving around the Sun, including planets and comets. The fourth part is about the nature of elliptical orbits of comets and planets and leads to the general Lambert theorem. Lagrange later wrote: "C'est ce que Lambert a fait dans son beau Traité 'De orbitis cometarum', ou il est parvenu a un des theoremes les plus elegantes et les plus utiles, qui aient ete trouve jusqu'ici sur ce subject, et qui a en meme temps l'avantage de s'appliquer aussi aux orbites elliptiques" (Oeuvres IV, 444).
References and literature: Houzeau & Lancaster 11955; Sotheran I 2400; Brüning 1773; Brunet III, 11; Hind 215; Struve 52. O. Volk, Johann Heinrich Lambert and the Determination of Orbits for Planets and Comets, in: Celestial Mechanics, 21 (1980), pp. 237-250; Bauschinger in: Ostwald's Klassiker d. exakten Wiss. No. 133. - Visit our website to see more images!
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