BAYER, Johann (1572-1625). Uranometria, omnium asterismorum continens schemata, nova methodo delineata, aeris laminis expressa. Augsburg: Christoph Mang, 1603.
2o (352 x 250 mm). Engraved title, 3 leaves preliminary text, 51 double-page engraved star maps by Alexander Mair, on guards throughout, letterpress descriptive text printed on rectos/versos of the maps, printer's woodcut device on colophon page, woodcut headpieces, initials and tailpiece. (Four plates with repairs to blank margins, some light marginal darkening.) Contemporary vellum over pasteboard, title lettered on spine (slightly bowed, some light staining to sides). Provenance: lengthy Latin inscription on front free endpaper, refering to Ignace Gaston Pardies, Globi coelestis in 6 tabulas.
FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST ACCURATE STAR ATLAS. Earlier star catalogues followed Ptolemy's Almagest in using verbal descriptions to describe the location of stars within the 48 northern constellations of classical astronomy, an awkward system that occasioned constant errors and misapprehensions. Bayer, a lawyer and amateur astronomer, was the first to identify the location of stars within a constellation by the use of Greek letters (with the addition of the Latin alphabet for constellations with more than 24 stars). This simple innovation greatly facilitated the identification of stars with the naked eye, just five or six years before the invention of the telescope, and Bayer's stellar nomenclature is still in use today. Bayer used Brahe's recent observations for the northern sky, and included, in chart 49, twelve new southern constellations observed by the Dutch navigator Pieter Dirckzoon Keyzer and reported by Pedro de Medina (see lot 248). To simplify identification of the stars Bayer included in his typographic descriptions both the traditional star numerations within each constellation and the many names for the constellations employed since Ptolemy. The graceful figures of Mair's charts were based on those of Jacobo de Gheyn in Grotius' edition of the Syntagma arateorum (1600). Norman 142; Deborah Warner, The sky explored: celestial cartography 1500-1800 pp. 18-19; Zinner 3951.