Six folding engraved plates. Title in red & black. 1 p.l., 308 pp. 8vo, cont. mottled sheep, flat spine nicely gilt, contrasting leather lettering piece on spine. Lausanne & Geneva: M.M. Bousquet, 1744.
First edition of this important book in which Cheseaux (1718-51), grandson of Crouzas and a fellow the Royal Society of London, first stated what was to become known as “the paradox of Cheseaux”: “With an infinite and uniform distribution of stars throughout space, the night sky should shine with a brightness corresponding to their average surface brightness.” A number of notable astronomers have struggled with this problem, including Halley, Olbers, Struve, and Herschel.
“The magnificent comet of 1744 was both bright and unusual in that it was reliably reported that it had multiple tails spread out like a fan. The Swiss astronomer Jean Philippe Loys de Cheseaux, after whom the comet is often named, began his observations on December 13, 1743, and computed a parabolic orbit based on his own observations through March 1, 1744…Before morning twilight on March 7 and 8, 1744, Cheseaux reported seeing a multiple-tail system, with 6 distinct rays extending above the horizon.”–Yeoman, Comets, pp. 161-62.
This work also contains the observations of Cassini and Jean Louis Calandrini.
❧ Lalande, p. 425.
Item ID: 6925