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GALILEI, Galileo (1564-1642). Sidereus nuncius magna, longeque admirabilia spectacula pandens. Venice: Tommaso Baglioni, 1610.
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GALILEI, Galileo (1564-1642). Sidereus nuncius magna, longeque admirabilia spectacula pandens. Venice: Tommaso Baglioni, 1610.

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GALILEI, Galileo (1564-1642). Sidereus nuncius magna, longeque admirabilia spectacula pandens. Venice: Tommaso Baglioni, 1610.

4° (220 x 168mm). Baglioni's woodcut device on title, 5 half-page etchings in text showing the lunar surface and phases, 3 woodcut text diagrams, 3 woodcut star maps including one full-page, a single woodcut star in margin of D2, 65 one-line typographical diagrams showing the varying positions of Jupiter and its moons, woodcut headpieces and initials. (Title with two small repaired wormtracks on bottom margin, small rust stain and three small ?stamp marks, first gathering and E2-E3 expertly rehinged, three tiny wormholes on D3, some light marginal spotting and soiling, two small stains at inner margin of C1.) Modern red boards, quire-guards in most gatherings, matching slipcase. Provenance: Glisenti (pencil inscription on title).

FIRST EDITION OF THE WORK THAT HAS 'OVERTHROWN ALL FORMER ASTRONOMY' (Sir Henry Wotton). THE FOUNDATION OF MODERN ASTRONOMY AND THE FIRST ACCOUNT OF ASTRONOMICAL DISCOVERIES MADE WITH THE TELESCOPE. After learning from Paolo Sarpi in 1609 of the invention by Hans Lipperhey of a device for making distant objects appear closer, Galileo set out to construct his own instrument. Within a few months he had improved his first nine-power instrument to one of about thirty-power, the practicable limit for a telescope of that type (with plano-convex objective and plano-concave eyepiece). He first turned his telescope to the heavens in early January 1610 ‘with startling results. Not only was the moon revealed to be mountainous and the Milky Way to be a congeries of separate stars, contrary to Aristotelian principles, but a host of new fixed stars and four satellites of Jupiter [which he named the Medicea Siderea in honor of Cosimo II de' Medici] were promptly discovered. Working with great haste but impressive accuracy, Galileo recited these discoveries in the Sidereus nuncius, published at Venice early in March 1610’ (DSB). Galileo's discoveries, which won him instant fame, did not prove that Copernicus was correct, but that the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic view of the universe was false. Nowhere in the Sidereus nuncius did Galileo explicitly express his private views in support of heliocentrism; nevertheless, the work was immediately the object of virulent attacks, which questioned the reality rather than the implications of his observations. ‘The reliability of the telescope, rather than the philosophical or theological plausibility of the Copernican system, was the main target of Galileo's adversaries and the subject of his replies in the period immediately following the publication of the Sidereus nuncius’ (M. Biagioli, Galileo Courtier, Chicago 1993, p.95). Galileo's defence against these attacks was to legitimize his discoveries by linking them to his Medici patrons, not only through the dedication of his work to Cosimo II and his naming of the ‘Medicean stars’, but more pointedly through his use of the Medicean diplomatic network to distribute telescopes and copies of his work to the European princes and cultural elite. This copy is without the pasted cancel slip correcting ‘Cosmica’ to ‘Medicea’ in the heading on B1r often found; after examination of 83 copies Paul Needham believes that the works that travelled north of the Alps at an early date were without this amendment in the dedication (Nick Wilding, Galileo's Idol, Chicago 2014, p.109). Carli and Favaro 30; Cinti 26; Dibner Heralds 7; Grolier/Horblit 35; Cf. Marco Piccolino, Nicholas J. Wade, Galileo's Visions, p. XIV; Norman 855; PMM 113 (‘Some of the most important discoveries in scientific literature’).
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