Sir Isaac Newton Astronomy Robert Ferguson Cosmology 1757 Scotland Plates Stars For Sale
Mikebooks122 proudly presents a copy of a
VERY RARE, ORIGINAL, 1757 EDITION OF: “ASTRONOMY EXPLAINED UPON SIR ISAAC NEWTON'S PRINCIPLES, AND MADE EASY TO THOSE WHO HAVE NOT STUDIED MATHEMATICS.”
It was authored by the esteemed James Ferguson. It was printed for and sold by the Author, at the Globe, opposite Cecil Street in the Strand in 1757.
James Ferguson was born in April, 1710 and is best remembered for his orreries (an orrery is a mechanical device that illustrates the relative positions and motions of the planets and moons in the Solar System in a heliocentric model) and other scientific instruments and as an astronomer, author and lecturer on various scientific subjects, including astronomy. In 1756 he published “Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles”, which presented a clear, non-mathematical account of Newton’s ideas. It proved extremely popular and helped to bring the new astronomy to a wider audience.
Ferguson was born in northeast Scotland to poor parents who eked a meager living from a smallholding. He had little formal education, but from a young age was fascinated by astronomy and showed an aptitude for mechanical devices. His early adult life was spent in Scotland, mostly working as a painter of portrait miniatures. In 1743 he moved to London and developed a career as an author and lecturer on astronomy and other scientific subjects.
Though he is principally remembered as an astronomer he lectured on a range of other scientific subjects, most notably mechanics, horology and chronology. He also made forays into hydraulics, pneumatics, electricity and, briefly, optics.
These lectures proved popular and successful. He lectured in London for the remainder of his life and later gave lecture tours in the provinces. Ferguson’s first major work, and his first commercial success, was “Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles” (1756), which described Newtonian astronomy without mathematics. Nonetheless, “Astronomy Explained” was extremely successful and went through several editions and numerous re-printings. It secured Ferguson’s reputation, allowed him to give up limning and may have contributed to his decision to sell his globe-making business.
Amongst Ferguson’s books “Astronomy Explained” and “Lectures on Select Subjects” were serious scientific texts; the others were less substantial, and as their titles suggest his books often tied in with his lectures. The success of Ferguson’s books may be attributed to their unpretentious style, clarity of exposition, avoidance of mathematics and, not least, their numerous striking and attractive illustrations; Ferguson was a skilled and imaginative draughtsman.
Ferguson continued to make orreries, versions of the astronomical rotula and other astronomical devices. His lectures were illustrated with demonstrations using ingenious models of his own construction. He made many such devices to illustrate principles in mechanics, hydraulics, etc, and his books contain numerous attractive illustrations of them.
Ferguson was never a commercial clockmaker, though he had built and maintained clocks in Scotland, and he retained a strong interest in wheelwork, particularly for reproducing astronomical phenomena. He devised several new types of timepiece, including a ‘three wheeled clock’ which was a modification of a design by his friend Benjamin Franklin. [Davenhall, 2010]
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics and shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the invention of the infinitesimal calculus.
Newton's Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation that dominated scientists' view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. It also demonstrated that the motion of objects on the Earth and that of celestial bodies could be described by the same principles. By deriving Kepler's laws of planetary motion from his mathematical description of gravity, Newton removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model of the cosmos.
Condition: Rare book remains in good condition [see images]. Volume is bound in original publisher’s full calf leather. Gilt frame on both covers. Raised band spin with worn gilt title. Volume is rubbed. SPECTACULAR FRONTIS ORRERY PLATE. 12 OF 13 OTHER PLATES PRESENT, #3 MISSING. A very few margin notes. Top 2"of front hinge is cracked. Volume is tight, white, bright and clean. It measures approx. 10" tall x 8" wide x 1.5" thick. Volume contains 283 pages of text and an index. This is quite a find and a very worthy acquisition indeed.
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