London, South Kensington
2 June 1998
[PIAZZI, Giuseppe.] Della scoperta del nuovo pianeta Cerere Ferdinandea. Palermo: stamperia Reale, 1802.
4°. Large engraved vignette to title, one engraved vignette of the observatory of Palermo. (Light worming to lower margin of first 5 leaves, laminated, title spotted, occasional light spotting throughout.) Modern boards (extremities lightly rubbed).
SCARCE FIRST EDITION of this work in which Piazzi (1746-1826) describes the discovery of the planet Ceres, named after the patron goddess of Sciliy. Piazzi, director of the Palermo observatory, "took up the problem of the precise determination of the astronomical coordinates (direct ascension and declination) of the principal stars ... In the course of his regular observations Piazzi, on the night of 1 January 1801, was searching a region in Taurus in which he hoped to see a star of the seventh magintude, listed in Lacaille's catalogue, which he had previously observed. Before that star appeared, however, he noticed the passage of a somewhat fainter body that Lacaille had not listed. Piazzi continued to observe the new body on the following evenings and ascertained from its movement that it must be a planet or comet ... He published his observations in 1801 as Risultati delle osservazioni della nuova stella scoperta il 1° gennaio 1801 nell'osservatorio di Palermo" (DSB). When in 1802 it became apparent that this star was a planet, the present work was published.
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