1655 GALILEO Sidereus Nuncius STARRY MESSENGER Astronomy TELESCOPE Moon, COMETS
Item History and Pricing
Printed in Bologna by heirs of [Evangelista] Dozza, 1655.
6 works bound together in one volume. Text in Latin and Italian. Illustrated with a fine frontispiece portrait of Galileo, and many woodcut illustrations and diagrams in text, including depictions of the moon surface based on Galileo's telescopic observations.THE FOUNDATIONAL WORK OF MODERN ASTRONOMY, GALILEO'S FAMOUS SIDEREUS NUNCI...US CONTAINS THE FIRST ACCOUNT OF ASTRONOMICAL DISCOVERIES MADE WITH THE TELESCOPE, bound together with the continuation (Continuatione del nuntio sidereo} which includes four pertinent letters by Galileo and a response from Alfonso Antonini di Udine. In addition, this volume contains various works (for some of which this might be the 1st appearance in print) and letters pertaining to the so-called "CONTROVERSY OF COMETS," and to the controversy on the lunar astronomy precipitated by Galileo's pioneering observations published in his 'Starry Messenger'. Although these works were printed as parts of the first collected edition of Galileo's works (edited by Carlo Manolessi), each treatise is independent and self-contained, each with their own special title-page and (in most cases) with separate pagination. Therefore, the individual works of the 1655 Bologna edition of Galileo are often found circulating separately.Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who played a key role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and a strong support of Copernicanism. His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honour), and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo's championing of Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime. The geocentric view had been dominant since the time of Aristotle, and the controversy engendered by Galileo's presentation of heliocentrism resulted in the Catholic Church prohibiting its advocacy, as it was deemed to be contrary to the literal meaning of Scripture. Galileo was eventually forced to recant his heliocentrism and spent the last years of his life under house arrest on orders of the Roman Inquisition."Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science." (Stephen Hawking) Galileo's epoch-making Sidereus Nuncius ["The Starry Messenger"], published in March 1610, "announced the discovery of craters on the moon, a multitude of stars beyond those few seen by unaided eyes, and the 4 satellites of Jupiter. More importantly, the book 'told the learned community that a new age had begun and that the universe and the way in which it was studied would never be the same' (Van Helden, vii) [...] What Hypnerotomachia (1499) is to the design of word-image narrative in fiction, Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius (1610) is to nonfiction. [...] The Starry Messenger adds several orders of magnitude to understanding Nature's amazing reality." (Tufte, Beautiful Evidence, p.97).Having learned from Paolo Sarpi in 1609 of the invention by Hans Lipperhey of a device for making distant objects appear closer, Galileo set out to construct his own instrument. Within a few months he had improved his first nine-power instrument to one of about thirty-power, the practicable limit for a telescope of that type (with plano-convex objective and plano-concave eyepiece). He first turned his telescope to the heavens in early January 1610 "...with startling results. Not only was the moon revealed to be mountainous and the Milky Way to be a congeries of separate stars, contrary to Aristotelian principles, but a host of new fixed stars and four satellites of Jupiter [which he named the Medicea Sidera in honor of Cosimo II de' Medici] were promptly discovered. Working with great haste but impressive accuracy, Galileo recited these discoveries in the Sidereus nuncius, published at Venice early in March 1610" (DSB).Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius was the first astronomical treatise based on telescopic observations to be published. Galileo's observations on the moon's imperfections, new stars identified in constellations unseen with the naked eye, and the discovery of Medicean Stars or moons circling Jupiter caused much controversy, especially within the church. Suspected of heresy, he was ultimately placed under house arrest by the Catholic church. Illustrated with multiple drawings and diagrams of the moon, the Medicean Stars, and several constellations including Orion and Taurus. Includes woodcut headpieces, tailpieces, initials, diagrams, and illustrations.Also included in this collection (bound after the Sidereus Nuncius) are various works by Galileo and his opponents which appeared in the course of the so-called Controversy of Comets.The first among these is Orazio Grassi's anonymous pamphlet De Tribus Cometis Anni MDCXVIII was published in early 1619 and based on a lecture Grassi had given to the Collegio Romano about three comets which had appeared in the autumn of 1618. Orazio Grassi (1583 - 1654) was an Italian Jesuit priest, who is best noted as a mathematician, astronomer and architect. In his De Tribus Cometis Grassi argued that the absence of parallax meant that the comets must be very distant from the Earth, and he suggested that they existed beyond the moon. Galileo received a copy of Grassi's lecture and was very angered by it, as evidenced by the notes he scribbled in the margin of his copy: 'pezzo d'asinaccio' ('piece of utter stupidity'), 'bufolaccio' ('buffoon'), 'villan poltrone' ('wicked idiot'), etc. Galileo responded with his Discorso delle Comete, i.e. "Discourse on Comets," a key contribution to the "controversy of the comets," and a work of great importance in Galileo's scientific career. The Discorso delle Comete (here bound after the De Tribus Cometis) was a rebuttal of the arguments, advanced by Grassi (though originally made by Tycho Brahe). In it Galileo suggested that the absence of parallax with comets was due not to their great distance from the Earth, but to their probably being atmospheric effects. Galileo also maintained their paths were straight, rather than circular, as Brahe and Grassi believed. As well as attacking Grassi, the Discourse also continued an earlier dispute with another Jesuit, Christoph Scheiner about sunspots.Guiducci, who became Galileo's assistant in 1618, allowed Galileo to publish the Discorso delle Comete under his name. Galileo used Guiducci's name partly due to his own ill health, and partly on account of the admonition he had received from the Inquisition in February 1616. Grassi replied later in the same year with yet another work entitled Libra astronomica, which contained personal attacks on both Galileo and Guiducci and misrepresented Galileo's opinions on comets. In turn, Galileo published his Il Saggiatore and Guiducci - his Lettera al M.R.P. Tarquinio Galluzzi, which is bound in our volume following the Discorso delle Comete.Guiducci's letter to Galluzzi, first printed in Florence in 1620 was one of the rarest works in the controversy of the comets. "In 1620 Guiducci protested the treatment he had received in the Libra by publishing [the present] letter addressed to his former professor of rhetoric, Tarquinio Galluzzi of the Collegio Romano. He had first considered replying directly to Grassi, but Celi advised against that. Although Galileo probably participated in experiments described in Guiducci's letter countering those in the Libra, the letter was entirely Guiducci's." (Stillman Drake, Galileo at Work, p.279)This 1655 second edition of Guiducci's letter also includes several writings pertaining to the controversy regarding the lunar physics and astronomy, such as an excerpt (Chap. L) from Litheosphorus, sive De lapide Bononiensi lucem by Fortunio Liceti (1577 - 1657), an Italian physician and philosopher, who was Galileo's friend and colleague at the University of Padua. Liceti's Litheosphorus examined the so-called "light-bearing stone of Bologna," which was a type of barite originating in Mount Paderno, and had the unusual property of becoming phosphorescent during the process of calcination. It was believed at the time that the phosphorescence was caused by the stone absorbing and then gradual releasing sunlight. Liceti used this stone as analogy for the Moon, believing that the Moon released light absorbed by the Sun, contrary to Galileo's argument in Sidereus Nuncius that the moon's illumination is caused by the reflection of sunlight from the earth. Liceti sent a copy of his book to Galileo, who, in response, wrote a polemical letter to Prince Leopoldo de' Medici of Tuscany defending his views; this letter (which is also included in our volume!) is the last scientific work produced by Galileo before his death. Also included is the treatise De lunarium montium altitudine problema mathematicum ("Altitude of the Moon's Mountains—A Mathematical Problem"). by an anonymous Jesuit author, which circulated shortly after the publication of Sidereus Nuncius, and which attacked Galileo's discoveries pertaining to the lunar mountains, insisting on the ancient opinion that the surface of the moon was perfectly smooth. The final work in this collection is Galileo's important letter (of September 1st, 1611) to Christopher Grienberger (1561 - 1636), an Austrian Jesuit astronomer, who sympathized with Galileo's theory of motion. In his long letter to Grienberger "Galileo responded to the Jesuit's perplexity regarding his interpretation of the telescope's selective removal of the luminous radiation of celestial bodies. [...] Another Jesuit, Mario Bettini, who had rejected Galileo's thesis of the presence of valleys and mountains on the Moon, [argued that] if there were mountains on the Moon, the lunar disk observed with the telescope would appear jagged, while on the contrary, it looked perfectly smooth. In his letter to Grienberger, Galileo rebutted Bettini's argument by declaring that the mountain tops on the lunar disk could not be perceived through the lenses of the telescope because of the strong contrast between the extremely bright luminosity of the disk of our satellite and the darkness of its background." (Paolo Galluzzi, The Lynx and the Telescope: The Parallel Worlds of Cesi and Galileo, p.91)Bibliographic references:Cinti 132; Riccardi I, 518; Houzeau-Lancaster I, 3386. Physical description:Quarto; leaves measure 22 cm x 16 cm. Bound in 18th-century mottled calf (modern reback in brown leather). All edges gilt. Marled endpapers (renewed).Six works in one volume.Pagination: , 60; 48; , 53-106; , 103-126 pages.All works COMPLETE. Sydereus nuncius and Continuatione del nuntio sidereo with continuous pagination; then De tribus cometis, Discorso delle comete and all further works also with continuous pagination.With six individual dated title-pages, each with a woodcut vignette.Includes a fine engraved frontispiece portrait of Galileo by F. Villamoena (recto with a general half-title to the second volume of Galileo's collected works), and with numerous woodcut illustrations and diagrams in text. Also with numerous woodcut decorative initials, head- and tail-pieces.Includes Galileo's dedication of Sidereus Nuncius (dated March 1610) to Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.Condition:Very Good. All works complete. Binding slightly rubbed with some wear to edges and corners, rebacked (with attractive marbled endpapers newly installed, while retaining an original front fly-leaf). Interior with some intermittent light-to-moderate browning, some spotting and occasional light soiling (mostly marginal). A few leaves with a small brownish stain to top margin (text not affected). Title-page of Sidereus with a faded 17th-century gift inscription, the name portion having been excised and repaired, affecting only the blank portion of leaf (text intact). Half-title (with portrait on verso) and title-page to Sidereus with a small, harmless worm-hole to top margin (text and portrait intact). In all, a clean, solid, wide-margined volume.
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