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Stock# 79182

Beautiful Celestial Atlas

Extra-Illustrated Copy with a Rare and Fine Impression of Cassini's Map of the Moon

The Atlas Céleste by John Flamsteed (1646-1719) was first published in English in a large format in 1729, ten years after the astronomer's death. The present French edition, styled the second edition on the title page, was issued in Paris by Fortin in 1776. The 30 beautiful plates of constellations reflect the work of Lemonnier, re-engraved in this smaller format (about 1/3 scale) by C. E. Voisard after Beaublé, and with the addition of a plate of the southern planisphere by N. L. de Lacaille (Plate 29), who, in keeping with the Enlightenment, named newly discovered constellations after modern technical instruments, including le Microscope and le Telescope. The present copy is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a rare and particuarly fine impression of a famous map of the moon.

Extra Plate of the Moon by Cassini

This copy includes as an extra illustration a fine folding engraving of the moon by Cassini, issued in 1788.  The moon engraving, here bound in the Flamsteed in its lovely contemporary French binding, stands as one of the earliest available scientific maps of the moon, based on a work originally published in 1679 by Giovanni Domenico Cassini from drawings by Claude Mellan (1598-1688). This later printing of the map was published by Cassini's great-grandson, of the same name but more commonly known as Cassini IV (1748-1845), who in 1784 was the director of the Paris Observatory. Cassini IV found the original copperplate of his great-grandfather's lunar map in the Observatory's archive and reissued it in this reduced format as Réduction de la grande Carte de la Lune de J. Dom. Cassini. This beautiful moon map shows details on the lunar surface observed through a telescope of twenty feet in length or more. Cassini I was a student of the astronomer Giovanni Baptist Riccioli (1598-1671), who was responsible for naming Mare Tranquilitatus. There are two somewhat hidden dedications interwoven into the moon’s surface, supposedly to Cassini’s wife, Geneviève de Laistre and to the wife of artist Jean Patigny (d. 1675). One is a profile of a woman’s head which features in the lower half by the mountain range “Heraclides”. The other appears in the Mare Serenitis, a heart shape or the Greek letter phi (φ) as in philos - meaning love.

Cassini's map is accompanied by a description of the formations named after noted polymaths such as Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus, and as well as a description of 'newer' discoveries. Cassini IV added labels to significant lunar features on this reduction, as well as a substantial historical note detailing the discoveries made by his great-grandfather and other astronomers. The labels follow the nomenclature of Cassini I's teacher, Giovanni Battista Riccioli, first laid out in his 'Almagestum Movun' in 1651.  It divided the visible surface of the Moon into octants, with the features in each named for a certain period of history. Octant VIII contains the names of Riccioli's contemporaries.  The names of Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler appear in the Sea of Storms. Riccioli credited several Arab astronomers by naming craters after them, despite a tendency in Christian scholars to gloss over their achievements, for example, Azophi and Arzachel (Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi and Al-Zarkali) in the upper portion of the map.

John Flamsteed

John Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal at the London Observatory, winning out over Edmund Halley and Isaac Newton. Though he made a copious and thorough study of the heavens, eventually tripling the number entries in Tycho Brahe's sky atlas, he refused to publish his works, despite the urgings of such luminaries as Halley and Newton. Finally, through the efforts of his wife, Flamsteed's life's work was put out posthumously: 

In 1725 Flamsteed's Historia Coelestis Britannica was published, edited by his wife, Margaret. This included a catalogue of 2,935 stars greatly enhancing the work of earlier observers. In 1729 his wife published the Atlas Coelestis, with the assistance of Joseph Crosthwait and Abraham Sharp. 

A very nice copy of perhaps the most popular French language Celestial Atlas of the 18th Century, here with the rare engraved map of the moon after Cassini as an extra bound in illustration.

Condition Description
Small quarto. Contemporary French mottled calf, red leather spine label. Spine gilt. Marbled endpapers. Moderate edge rubbing to binding, corners worn. Spine still bright. Tiny wormholes to the binding near the lower front hinge (book block and leaves not affected by worming). [4] pages, 30 double-sheet engraved celestial plates plus extra folding engraved plate of the moon by Cassini. 40 pages. Complete. Remnants of small oval ink stamp on front flyleaf. Internal condition is exceptionally nice, with all the plates being sharp impressions.