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Newton, I. - Ferguson, James: Astronomy Explained Upon Sir Isaac Newton's Principles, and made easy to those who have not studied mathematics.


Newton, I. - Ferguson, James:

Astronomy Explained Upon Sir Isaac Newton's Principles, and made easy to those who have not studied mathematics. Mit gefaltetem Frontispiz und 13 gefalteten Kupfertafeln. London, Printed for, and sold by the Author, 1756. 4 Bll., 257 Seiten, 4 Bll. (Index). 4°. Handgebundener Halbmaroquin mit 2 roten Rückenschildern und Marmorpapierbezug.

Erste Ausgabe, selten. - DSB IV, 565 - Gray 75 - Honeyman Coll. 1289 - Houzeau/L. 8879 - Wallis 75 - vgl. Poggend. I, 734 (5. A. 1772). - Das Werk gehört zu den wichtigsten astronomischen Publikationen des 18. Jhdts. und versucht als eine der ersten wisssenschaftlichen Darstellungen in populärer Sprache die Lehren Newtons zu erklären. - "He became an accomplished public lecturer and expounder of Newtonian ideas especially after the publication of his 'Astronomy'" (DSB). - Das schön von G. Child nach Ferguson gestochene Frontispiz zeigt dessen "Orrery", die Planetenmaschine, auch Planetarium genannt. - Taf. II verbunden, die seitl. äußersten unbeschn. Ränder gebräunt u. angestaubt, der äußerste seitl. Rand von Taf. XIII verschmutzt u. geknickt durch früheres falsches Einklappen. - Leicht gebräunt bzw. stellenweise etwas stockfleckig, Titelbl. seitlich etwas lichtrandig bzw. angestaubt, mit Besitzverkmerk.






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James Ferguson was a Scottish astronomer who, despite never receiving formal training, became famed for his travelling lectures and easy-to-understand works on the basics of astronomy. Ferguson learned mechanics at a very early age and developed an interest in stargazing while working as a shepherd in the Scottish highlands. These interests, as well as an innate skill for draughtsmanship, were encouraged by his father and others but due to lack of funds he was unable to pursue study at one of the major universities in Scotland. Nevertheless, he was able to use his skills to produce mechanical devices such as orreries (an early piece of equipment used to demonstrate the movements of the planets), clocks and globes and earned a steady living painting portrait miniatures with India ink.

This book on astronomy was the first major work by Ferguson and earned him an immediate scientific reputation, resulting in his election as Fellow of the Royal Society in 1763. It provides easy-to-follow illustrated instructions on the workings of an orrery and simply describes the movements of the planets, the timings of eclipses and the discoveries of other astronomers such as Johannes Kepler, Sir Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley. This was a remarkably useful enterprise: it allowed ordinary people without formal mathematical training to understand the works of Newton and helped support the vogue for amateur astronomy that was taking place in the mid eighteenth century. Ferguson travelled the country giving popular lectures on astronomy and followed the work with several others along similar themes in the 1760s and 1770s until his death in 1776.