Paris: De l’Imprimerie Royale, 1783-1784. FIRST EDITION. With 7 engraved plates, woodcut headpieces, and numerous tables. Contemporary mottled calf, gilt spines, corners and edges worn; sporadic browning, otherwise a very good set. Item #13902
First edition of this valuable work on comets. The text is divided into four parts: a history of astronomy dating from ancient Babylon and Egypt through the eighteenth century; a catalogue of all the comets observed since antiquity with orbital elements of 166 for which paths had been computed (50 by Pingré himself); cometary returns and their physical effects upon the earth; and the methods for computing cometary orbits. For the significance of this monumental work see Colin A. Ronan’s article in DSB, where he notes that as recently as 1950, it was officially recommended as a source book on cometary information.
Pingré (1711-96) was an eminent professor of astronomy at the Rouen Academy of Sciences whose notable contributions include examining the measurement of an arc of the meridian made 80 years before by Jean Picard, and observations of the transit of Venus in 1761 and 1769.