Konigsberg: Frid. Nicolovium, 1818. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION OF A SYSTEM DESIGNED BY BESSEL THAT “CONSTITUTES A MILESTONE IN THE HISTORY OF ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATIONS” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 97). Prior to Bessel, the positions of stars could not be determined with accuracy. The work offered here provided a system for doing so.
Bessel’s work made it possible to build on and use the earlier observations of Giuseppe Piazzi and James Bradley. From their work, Bessel was then able to create a reference system for the positions of stars and planets. The result was a protocol, or technique, for determining the positions of stars. Bessel published his findings in this work, a work that marks “the beginning of modern astronomy (ibid).
Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846) was a German astronomer who recognized that Bradley’s observations of 1755 provided the “best possible coordinate system for the epoch 1755… [Bessel also] recognized the need of accurate first-epoch observations for the determination of proper motions of stars and for the establishment of a reference system for a large interval of epochs” (Fricke, Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel, 12).
Beginning with Bradley’s records providing the mid-18th century positions of planets and stars, Bessel recognized errors in computation, account errors in measurement caused by refraction of light (as well as some problems specific to Bradley’s instruments). Now able to correct for those errors, Bessel could use Bradley’s data to restrict star positions to fixed dates. The system Bessel created, became a principle of astronomical observation, and made it possible to calculate “star positions as observed in the mid-18th century to [arrive at] a common set of positions at a particular time” (Christie's 2017. Item #1570
CONDITION & DETAILS: Regiomonti (Konigsberg), Frid. Nicolovium. Folio, pp. xiv, 325, . Prior owner's name on front free endpaper. Not ex-library. Handsomely bound in black half-calf over marbled boards. Minor scuffing at the edges; tightly and solidly bound. Minor toning within with lightly scattered spotting. Very good + condition.