Traité Physique et Historique de l'Aurore Boréale...Revûe, & augmentée de plusieurs Éclaircissemens. Jean Jacques d'Ortous de MAIRAN.

First Exhaustive Treatise on the Aurora Borealis

Traité Physique et Historique de l'Aurore Boréale...Revûe, & augmentée de plusieurs Éclaircissemens.

Woodcut device on title & 17 folding engraved plates. 6 p.l., 570, xxii pp. Large 4to, cont. mottled sheep (a few minor scuff marks), spine nicely gilt, contrasting vellum lettering piece on spine. Paris: de l’Imprimerie Royale, 1754.

Third edition, greatly enlarged, of the first exhaustive treatise on the aurora borealis. Mairan attributed the phenomenon to an extension of the sun’s atmosphere, which at times enveloped the earth and blended with our atmosphere. “Inquiry into the history and physics of the aurora borealis; the chapter on the relation between the aurora and the magnetic declination is of special interest.”–Wheeler Gift Cat. 382. There are many references to Descartes, Newton, Cassini, and Euler.

Mairan (1678-1771), while basically a Cartesian, did incorporate some Newtonian ideas in his theories. He was secretary of the Paris Academy of Sciences and belonged to the Royal Societies of London, Edinburgh, and Uppsala, the St. Petersburg Academy, and the Institute of Bologna.

Unusually fine copy. Bookplate of Pierre Sciclounoff, the prominent Geneva lawyer and book collector.

❧ D.S.B., IX, pp. 33-34. See E. Newton Harvey’s A History of Luminescence, pp. 258-59 for an excellent discussion.

Price: $3,000.00

Item ID: 5053