Sidereus nuncius magna longeque admirabilia spectacula pandens, suspiciendaque proponens unicuique praesertim vero philosophis, atque astronomis, quae a Galileo Galileo perspicilli nuper a sereperti beneficio sunt observata in lunae facie... [Bound with:] KEPLER, Johannes. Dissertatio cum Nuncio Sidereo nuper ad mortales misso a Galilaeo Galilaeo.

Frankfurt: [Zacharias] Palthenius, 1610; 1611.

Second edition of Galileo’s magnum opus, published just a few months after the original printing at Venice on March 10, 1610. “Galileo’s book created excitement throughout Europe and a second edition was published in the same year at Frankfurt” (DSB). This pirate edition of Sidereus nuncius is the first publication of any of Galileo’s works outside Italy; it is rarer than the Venice edition, and exceptionally rare when complete with the plates, as here. These plates inaugurated the tradition of white-on-black woodcut illustration which makes such an effective medium for the depiction of stars as points of light against a black sky (the stars in the first edition were depicted as black against a blank page); the Frankfurt star maps were the source for the illustrations in most of the later editions of the Sidereus nuncius, and in many lunar handbooks even today. “Galileo’s ‘Starry Messenger’ contains some of the most important discoveries in scientific literature. Learning in the summer of 1609 that a device for making distant objects seem close and magnified had been brought to Venice from Holland, Galileo soon constructed a spy-glass of his own which he demonstrated to the notables of the Venetian Republic, thus earning a large increase in his salary as professor of mathematics at Padua. Within a few months he had a good telescope, magnifying to 30 diameters, and was in full flood of astronomical observation. Through his telescope Galileo saw the moon as a spherical, solid, mountainous body very like the earth – quite different from the crystalline sphere of conventional philosophy. He saw numberless stars hidden from the naked eye in the constellations and the Milky Way. Above all, he discovered four new ‘planets’, the satellites of Jupiter that he called (in honor of his patrons at Florence) the Medicean stars. Thus Galileo initiated modern observational astronomy and announced himself as a Copernican” (PMM). Bound here with the Galileo is the pirate edition, issued by the same publisher, of Kepler’s response to the publication of Sidereus nuncius, written in the form of an open letter to Galileo. Kepler received a copy of Sidereus nuncius from Galileo on April 8, 1610 and his pamphlet, ‘Conversation with the Starry Messenger,’ was published at Prague in May, and shortly after at Florence; this Frankfurt edition is its third appearance. Kepler accepted Galileo’s new observations with enthusiasm, and his work helped Galileo to persuade some of his critics in Italy. Kepler “also reminded his readers of the earlier history of the telescope, his own work on optics, his ideas on the regular solids and on possible inhabitants of the moon, and his arguments against an infinite universe. A few months later, in the second of the only three known letters that Galileo wrote directly to Kepler, the Italian astronomer stated, ‘I thank you because you were the first one, and practically the only one, to have complete faith in my assertions’” (DSB, under Kepler). Only one other copy of the Frankfurt printing of Sidereus nuncius complete with the plates has appeared at auction since the Signet Library sale in 1960 (Sotheby’s New York, December 11, 2009, lot 24, $122,500), and the plates are lacking in many institutional copies. The only copy of the Frankfurt printing of Kepler’s Dissertatio listed on ABPC/RBH is one offered by Goldschmidt in 1965 (bound with a copy of the Frankfurt printing of Sidereus nuncius without the plates). OCLC lists, in the US, Yale only for the Galileo (two copies, one with the plates, one without), and Princeton only for the Kepler.

Provenance: Louis Godin (1704-60), French astronomer (manuscript ex-libris on verso of front free endpaper and ex dono dated 1730 on title); Jean-Paul Grandjean de Fouchy (1707-1788), French astronomer (signature ‘Grandjean’ on title); ‘Dom Salons Berselens’ (ink stamp on recto of front free endpaper); Jesuit library of the École Sainte-Geneviève (ink stamp on title); Jesuit Library at Chantilly (ink stamp on title); sold Christie’s, Paris, April 21, 2010, lot 29, €68,200.

Galileo’s researches in astronomy were more than original, they were unprecedented. He was not an astronomer in the sense of Copernicus, Tycho, and Kepler, making observations, devising models, and deriving parameters in order to compute tables and ephemerides for finding the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Nor did he search for the physical principles governing the motions of the heavens as Kepler and later Newton did. Most of his work was concerned with two issues, the refutation of the Aristotelian and the defense of the Copernican ‘System of the World’ and his originality lies not so much in what he found as in how he interpreted his discoveries. Even his discoveries with the telescope, as interesting as they are in themselves – and it is hard to think of more surprising discoveries in the entire history of science – are of still greater interest for the conclusions that he drew from them, for nearly all of them could be turned to the criticism of Aristotle and the defense of Copernicus …

“In late 1608 Galileo’s friend Paolo Sarpi heard a rumor of an optical device, recently invented in the Netherlands, that made distant objects appear close, and by May of 1609 he must have alerted Galileo. It was not hard to make one of these things using spectacle lenses, a plano-convex lens as an objective and a plano-concave lens as an eyepiece. When placed in a tube, the result is a ‘spyglass’ giving an upright image of 3x or 4x magnification. Galileo did this much, and since he wanted something better, he learned to grind and polish lenses, and by August had made an instrument of 8x or 9x. He called it a perspicillum, and he arranged through Sarpi a demonstration for the Venetian Senate, on whom its naval application for spotting distant ships was not lost. Galileo therefore donated sole rights to the manufacture of the instrument to the Republic of Venice – which is curious since he was not the inventor and Venice could hardly prevent manufacture elsewhere – asking in return only an improvement in his position at the university. This he received. His salary was nearly doubled to 1,000 florins, although not until the following year, after which it would be frozen. So Galileo promptly renewed overtures to his former pupil Cosimo de' Medici for a court appointment in Florence, sending him a very fine telescope. He soon had a more splendid gift for Cosimo.

“By the beginning of 1610 he had made a telescope of 20x, but even before that he began making observations of the heavens, in which it was not so much the magnification as the light gathering and resolving power of the telescope that allowed him to see what had never been seen before. In about two months, December and January, he made more discoveries that changed the world than anyone has ever made before or since …

“Galileo first turned his telescope on the Moon. He found that it had a rough surface with mountains and plains, which was especially evident by examining the terminator between the illuminated and dark portions. For bright points of light were seen in the dark that gradually extended toward the terminator, just as the light of the rising Sun first strikes the tops of mountains and then gradually extends down to the surrounding plain. He drew and had engraved five illustrations of crescent and quarter phases, … showing the points of light in the dark part, clear distinctions between the lunar seas and highlands, as they are now known, and a number of circular features that we know to be craters.

“Galileo also used the opportunity to discuss a problem he had solved several years earlier, the secondary light of the Moon. When the Moon is in its crescent phase, the dark part of its body is also faintly lighted, sufficiently to detect the large spots with a good telescope, an effect that disappears around quadrature … After refuting a number of incorrect causes, as the intrinsic light of the Moon, or light imparted by Venus or the stars, or sunlight passing through the body of the Moon, he explains the secondary light as reflected light from the Earth. Just as the Moon when nearly full illuminates the Earth at night, so the nearly full Earth illuminates the Moon. He adds that he will explain this in more detail in his System of the World, where he will show with many reasons and experiments that there is a very strong reflection of sunlight by the Earth; and against those who exclude the Earth from the choric dance of the stars because it is without motion and light, he will confirm by demonstrations and countless reasons drawn from nature that the Earth is a planet and surpasses the Moon in light. This is the most direct statement concerning the motion of the Earth in the Sidereal Messenger

“In observing stars Galileo found that their enlargement was much less than that of the Moon and planets, which appear as globes, like little moons. The telescope, he concluded, removes the stars’ extraneous rays and shows them to be much smaller than previously thought, although so much brighter that a star of the fifth or sixth magnitude appears equal to Sirius. The removal of the stars’ ‘irradiation’ as he later called it, which he found to apply also to planets, was one of Galileo’s most important discoveries, to which he returned in his later works, refining its explanation and extending its implications. Still more strikingly, countless fainter stars were seen, amounting to more than six additional magnitudes of brightness. Within a space of one or two degrees in Orion, he found more than five hundred new stars, and to illustrate this he showed eighty new stars around the nine original stars in the belt and sword and thirty-six within half a degree of the six Pleiades. The head of Orion and Praesepe in Cancer, listed in Ptolemy’s star catalogue as ‘nebulous,’ were found to consist of many small stars very close together, and the most spectacular of all, the Milky Way, whose nature had provoked endless discussion, turned out to consist of vast numbers of stars beyond all counting grouped into clusters.

“The small apparent size, large range of brightness, and immense number of the stars were Galileo’s most ambiguous, and potentially most important, discoveries. Were stars now to be very small objects at a single small distance, say, just beyond Saturn, or objects of indeterminate size distributed over many large but indeterminate distances? The latter interpretation makes the diurnal rotation of the celestial sphere implausible to the point of impossibility, and removes the one purely astronomical objection to the motion of the Earth about the Sun: the absence of any detectable effect on the positions of stars … there can be no doubt that Galileo’s observation of the stars was the first step toward the universe of vast numbers of stars and systems of stars at vast distances of modern cosmology.

“On 7 January 1610 Galileo observed Jupiter and found two small bright stars to the east of the planet and one to the west in a straight line parallel to the ecliptic. On the 8th all three stars were equally spaced in a line to the west. He wondered if perhaps Jupiter could be moving to the east, although by computation, from tables or an ephemeris, it was moving retrograde to the west. The 9th was cloudy, but on the 10th two stars were to the east and the third, he guessed, was hidden behind Jupiter. At this point he realized, with astonishment, that the motion must belong, not to Jupiter, but to the stars. By the next night, 11 January, he says that he reached his conclusion: the three stars were moving about Jupiter just as Venus and Mercury move about the Sun. On 13 January he observed a fourth star and noted that none of them twinkle like stars. That all four were moving around Jupiter was confirmed by nightly observations, continuing until 2 March, with measurements of their distances from Jupiter and each other in apparent diameters of Jupiter, taken as one arc minute, along with estimates of their size or brightness, and from 26 February their passing of a nearby star. Since Galileo wished to demonstrate beyond doubt that these four stars were indeed moving around Jupiter, he published sixty-five illustrations of the configuration at each observation showing stars aligned about an open circle to indicate their distances, with the sizes of the stars distinguishing their apparent size, and in the last five showing the nearby fixed star. Their variation in size or brightness he assumed was due to Jupiter’s being surrounded by a vaporous orb, like the Earth and Moon, which dimmed the light of the stars when they were seen through it.

“The satellites of Jupiter were a total surprise, first to Galileo, then to everyone else … By the end of 1610, however, there had been a number of independent confirmations, including those of Magini and the astronomers of the Collegio Romano, and the existence of the satellites was well established … The significance of the satellites, aside from their own interest as the very first additions to the planetary system since the most remote antiquity, was that they showed that a planet could move and have satellites, since Jupiter was obviously moving, answering a perfectly reasonable objection to Copernican theory that it seemed odd that the Earth could have the Moon moving around it while it moved about the Sun …

“Galileo’s latest observation is dated 2 March, and by 10 March the Sidereus nuncius, the ‘Sidereal Messenger’ (or Message) appeared in Venice, dedicated to Cosimo II de' Medici, Fourth Grand Duke of Tuscany, after whom he named the four satellites of Jupiter the ‘Medicean Stars.’ This is particularly appropriate, he points out in the dedication, since at the time of Cosimo’s birth Jupiter occupied the midheaven, the royal planet in the tenth house of royal authority, and there are yet other pleasing astrological conceits to flatter the young Grand Duke’s vanity. Within a few weeks Galileo’s discoveries were known throughout Europe, and by June he had resigned his position at Padua to become Chief Mathematician of the University of Pisa, with no teaching responsibilities, and Philosopher and Mathematician to the Grand Duke of Tuscany … Within a year of publishing the Sidereal Messenger, Galileo was the most celebrated natural philosopher in Europe” (Swerdlow, pp. 244-253).

“Galileo sent a copy of his book along with a letter asking for Kepler’s judgment to the Tuscan ambassador in Prague, who had the book delivered to Kepler. On April 13, Kepler visited the ambassador’s residence, where Galileo’s request was read to him. An official courier was returning to Tuscany within a week, and Kepler promised his reply would be ready for the return trip. He finished his letter to Galileo on April 19.

“So many other people were anxious to know what Kepler had said that he had the letter printed as a small 35-page book with the title Dissertatio cum nunceo sidereo. It was an unusual work. Kepler did not have a telescope, so he could not confirm the observations. (Try as he might he could not get Galileo to send him one and eventually had to borrow one to see the new phenomena for himself.) In the meantime, the most Kepler could do to lend Galileo support was establish the plausibility of what Galileo had reported, beginning with the telescope itself. In some ways the principle of magnifying images using a combination of lenses had been alluded to in previous optical theory. But it was something Kepler had missed in his Astronomia pars optica (1604). Five months later, he had cracked the problem and the next year Kepler published the first detailed optical theory of two lens systems in his Dioptrice (1611), including a superior telescope design using two convex lenses, now called the ‘astronomical’ or ‘Keplerian’ telescope.

“Otherwise, Kepler could only respond enthusiastically to Galileo’s discoveries and speculate about their meaning. With regard to Galileo’s account of lunar geography, Kepler admitted that he was totally convinced by Galileo’s observations and analysis of mountains and craters on the moon, and he speculated that the cratered appearance was due perhaps to the moon being light and porous (which according to Kepler’s physical astronomy would explain its rapid revolution around the earth). Or perhaps the craters were great circular ramparts built by lunar inhabitants, in whose shade they could shelter during the inhospitable 14 days of continuous sunlight on the moon’s surface.

“Jupiter’s moons were by far the most spectacular of Galileo’s discoveries. For Kepler, they were significant because they had implications in favor of heliocentrism. First, the fact that Jupiter also had moons seemed to remove the objection that the earth could not travel around the sun without losing its moon. Also, the fact that the moons revolved in the plane of Jupiter’s rotation implied that the moons were being swept around by a planet-moving force coming from Jupiter, just as Kepler had suggested in the Astronomia nova (1609) that the moon is moved by the earth’s rotation. Finally, Jupiter’s moons suggested to Kepler that Jupiter must be inhabited by intelligent beings. Why else would God have endowed Jupiter with this feature we cannot see?” (Voelkel, pp. 70-71).

In the Dissertatio Kepler also suggested a geometrical explanation of the existence of Jupiter’s four moons, similar to the theory he had put forward in Mysterium cosmographicum (1596) to explain why there are six planets: he found there that the six concentric spheres on which the planets move are of just the right size to allow the five regular solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, icosahedron, dodecahedron), when arranged in a particular order, to fit in the gaps between the spheres, so that each sphere passes through the vertices of one polyhedron and touches the faces of the next. In the case of Jupiter’s moons, Kepler speculated that the sizes of their orbits could be explained in a similar way using the three polyhedra that can be constructed from rhombs: the cube, rhombic dodecahedron and triacontahedron (a 30-faced solid related to the icosidodecahedron). Kepler confirmed this conjecture to his satisfaction in his Epitome (1618-22).

It is often said, based on Galileo’s own testimony, that all of the 550 copies of the Venice printing of Sidereus nuncius were sold less than a week after its release on March 10. Nick Wilding (p. 109) points out, however, that Galileo’s statement meant rather that all of the copies had ‘gone away’ and that this was because a majority of copies had been sent to the spring book fair in Frankfurt (28 March – 13 April), which then dominated European international book distribution – a remarkable feat given the journey times in the early seventeenth century. The interest generated by Sidereus nuncius at the fair was evidently sufficient to persuade the Frankfurt printer/publisher Zacharias Palthenius (the successor of Johann Wechel) to quickly reprint it, without authorization, and this pirate edition appeared within six months of the original (Needham). The book was printed in octavo rather than the quarto format of the Venice edition, and the illustrations were reproduced as woodcuts, rather than engravings, and were less accurately presented than in the original edition. There are other signs that it was produced in haste: for example, Galileo’s careful lunar engravings are reproduced out of order and printed upside down. The Frankfurt edition reproduces an error in the first edition: in the drop-title on f.5r of the Venice printing, the phrase ‘Cosmica Sydera,’ which Galileo had intended to use in order to honor Cosimo Medici II, was corrected to ‘Medicea Sydera’ via cancel slips in most of the Venice copies, but of the copies that traversed the Alps that he examined, Needham found that 51 copies out of 83 lacked the cancel (Wilding, p. 109). Palthenius obviously based the reprint on one of the uncorrected copies.

The most significant difference between the Venice and Frankfurt editions, as noted earlier, is the woodcut white-on-black printing of the star maps in the Frankfurt edition, as opposed to the engravings in black on a blank background of the Venice printing. These four plates show the Pleiades, Orion’s belt, and two nebulae, Orion and Praesepe. The first shows 36 stars in addition to the six known as the Pleiades. Galileo had originally planned to map the entire constellation of Orion, but soon realised that this was far too complex a task. His map shows about 80 stars in addition to those that make up Orion’s belt and sword. Praesepe, a star cluster in the constellation Cancer (now usually known as the Beehive Cluster), is visible to the naked eye as a small nebulous spot, but was resolved by Galileo into a cluster of 40 stars. These four plates were originally printed on two large folding sheets, the larger Pleiades plate on one sheet and the remaining three on the other. In the present copy these plates have been cut out and inserted at the appropriate points in the text (the Pleiades plate is still folded).

The present copy of Galileo’s Sidereus nuncius and Kepler’s Dissertatio cum nuncio sidereo has an appealing provenance linking two important eighteenth century French astronomers. After studying under Joseph Delisle at the Collège Royal, Louis Godin entered the Académie des Sciences (Paris) in 1725. He presented numerous memoirs on transient celestial phenomena such as eclipses, meteors and the northern lights. Jean-Paul Grandjean de Fouchy also studied under Delisle, and was named assistant astronomer at the Académie from 1731, perpetual secretary from September 2, 1743 (when he replaced Dortous de Mairan), and director from 1770. He was the author of papers on topics such as transits of Mercury, the satellites of Jupiter, and lunar eclipses. He wrote at least one joint paper with Godin, ‘Observation de l’éclipse partielle de la lune du 20 Juin 1731’ (Histoire de l’Académie Royale des Sciences 1731 (1733), pp. 231-236). Godin is best known today for leading the expedition to determine the length of a degree of longitude at the equator. In 1733 Godin published a paper on a means for tracing parallels of latitude. Because this contained reflections on the proportions of these circles in differing figures of the earth, Godin was led soon thereafter to propose that the Académie send an expedition to the equator to resolve the issue between the ‘Cassinians’ and the ‘Newtonians’ with their respective views of the earth’s prolateness or oblateness. Having accepted this plan, the Académie logically named Godin to undertake this task. As well as Pierre Bouguer and Charles-Marie de la Condamine, the Académie initially proposed that Granjean de Fouchy should also take part. He dropped out, however, giving the excuse of family and health, though later evidence suggested that the true reason was quintessentially French – an ongoing love affair (Hoare). Having completed the measurements, Bouguer and La Condamine left Peru in 1743; Godin stayed on, as professor of mathematics at the University of San Marcos, until 1751. On Godin’s death in 1760, his obituary was written by Grandjean de Fouchy (‘Eloge de M. Godin’, Histoire de l’Académie Royale des Sciences 1760 (1766), p. 187).

GALILEO: Carli & Favaro 31; Cinti 28; Dibner, Heralds of Science 7n; Zinner 4271. KEPLER: Caspar 37; Carli & Favaro 34; Zinner 4319. Hoare, The Quest for the True Figure of the Earth, 2005. Needham, Galileo Makes a Book, 2011 (see pp. 189-210). Swerdlow, ‘Galileo's discoveries with the telescope and their evidence for the Copernican theory,’ Ch. 7 in: The Cambridge Companion to Galileo (Machamer, ed.), 1998. Voelkel, Johannes Kepler and the New Astronomy, 1999. Wilding, Galileo's Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge, 2014.



Two works bound in one vol., 8vo (162 x 95 mm). GALILEO: pp. [2], 3-55, woodcut printer’s device on title, seven woodcut text illustrations, woodcut headpieces and decorative initials, four woodcut plates on three sheets titled ‘Pleiades’, ‘Cinculi et Ensis Orionis Asterismus’, ‘Nebulosa Orionis’ and ‘Nebulosa Praesepes’ (lightly browned as usual for German publications of this period, the plates cropped with loss of the first two headlines and partial loss of the last, but no loss to the star images). KEPLER: pp. [2], 3-53, [1], woodcut printer’s device on title, woodcut head- and tail-pieces and decorative initials (lacking the final blank, lightly browned). Contemporary limp vellum, spine with 18th century paper label lettered in manuscript (rubbed with minor loss near foot of spine).

Item #5062

Price: $125,000.00

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