Paris: Bachelier, 1846. 4to. 9 parts. FIRST EDITIONS. Original pink wrappers, Slightly faded and chipped edges; some foxing. Held together in bolding red case. Item #14445
1. “Recherches sur les mouvements d’Uranus.” From Comptes rendus hebdonadaires des séances de l’academie des sciences (hereafter Comptes rendus), Volume 22, No. 22, pp. 907-918. Paris: Bachelier, 1 June, 1846.
2. “Sur la planète qui produit les anomalies observées dans le mouvement d’Uranus – Détermination de sa masse, de son orbite et de sa position actuelle.” From Comptes rendus, Volume 23, No. 9, pp. 428-438. Paris: Bachelier, 31 August, 1846.
3. “Extrait d’une lettre de M. Schumacher à M. Le Verrier.” From Comptes rendus, Volume 23, No. 2, p. 106. Paris: Bachelier, 13 July, 1846. (Letter from Schumacher to Le Verrier regarding a comet.)
4. “Sur la planète qui produit les anomalies observées dans le mouvement d’Uranus – Cinquième et dernière partie, relative à la détermination de la position du plan de l’orbite.” (with) “Planète de M. Le Verrier.” (Letter from Galle to Le Verrier.) (with) “Lettre de M. Le Ministre de l’instruction publique.” (Nomination of Le Verrier.) From Comptes rendus, Volume 23, No. 14, pp. 657-659; 659-663; 676. Paris: Bachielier, 5 October, 1846.
5. “Planète de M. Le Verrier.” From Comptes rendus, Volume 23, No. 15, p. 715-716. Paris: Bachelier, 12 October, 1846. (Letter from Challis to Le Verrier.)
6. “Comparaison des observations de la nouvelle planète, avec la théorie déduite des perturbations d’Uranus.” (with) ___ & ARAGO. “Planète Le Verrier. Examen des remarques critiques et des questions de priorité que la découverte de M. Le Verrier a soulevées. (with) Letter from Gauss to Libri. From Comptes rendus, Volume 23, No. 16, pp. 741; 741-754; 754. Paris: Bachelier, 19 October, 1846.
7. ___ & BINET. “Note sur la détermination approximative de la distance du soleil à la planète Le Verrier.” (with) “Note de M. Le Verrier.” From Comptes rendus, Volume 23, No. 17, pp. 798-799; 799-800. Paris: Bachelier, 26 October, 1846.
8. “Note de M. Le Verrier.” From Comptes rendus, Volume 23, No. 18, p. 854. Paris: Bachelier, 2 November 1846.
9. “Note de M. Le Verrier.” From Comptes rendus, Volume 23, No. 19, p. 863. Paris: Bachelier, 9 November 1846.
9 parts. 4to. All in original printed wrappers. $ 7500.00
First editions, first printings. These publications represent the cumulative work of Le Verrier’s prediction of the existence of the then unknown planet Neptune, using only mathematics and astronomical observations of the planet Uranus. Realizing that the irregularity of the orbit of Uranus was due to the influence of an undiscovered planet further out, Le Verrier succeeded in computing the mass and orbit of the perturbing body. He sent his prediction of the missing planet’s position to Johann Galle (1812-1910) of the Berlin Observatory, who actually found Neptune on his first night of looking, 23 September 1846, based upon Le Verrier’s predicted location.
Le Verrier (1811-1877) was encouraged by the physicist Arago, then Director of the Paris Observatory. Unknown to Le Verrier, an English scientist, John Couch Adams, had arrived at the same conclusions, though the results of Adams’ work were written in a private letter and dated two days later than Le Verrier’s public lecture to the French Academy on 31 August, 1846. Although controversy arose over the credit for the discovery, as Adams began his work before Le Verrier and indeed made the same prediction nearly a year earlier, Adams failed to publish until more than a month following Galle’s sighting. The dispute was apparently made even more difficult by Le Verrier’s arrogance and violent temper.
Le Verrier went on to work on a re-evaluation of planetary motion and perturbations, and published a table of the motions of all known planets. He also theorized that the slow precession of Mercury’s orbit around the sun could not be completely explained by Newtonian mechanics, and suggested another planet in between Mercury and the sun (Vulcan). He was director of the Paris Observatory from 1854 to 1870, when he was driven out by the staff because of his management style; he was re-appointed in 1873 after the new director, Delaunay, drowned.