Description of a Forty-Feet Reflecting Telescope, From the Philosophical Transactions
by HERSCHEL, William
19 large folding engraved plates. 65 pp. Large 4to, cont. half-calf & paste paper boards (head of spine worn & corners a bit rubbed), spine gilt, red leather lettering piece on spine. [London: 1795]. First edition, the rare separately paginated offprint of one of Herschel's most important papers. Herschel (1738-1822), designed an enormous 40-foot reflector telescope for King George III at Slough. To accommodate the mirror, the tube had to be over 40 feet long and nearly 5 feet in diameter. This work describes the entire process of its conception and costly four-year construction, completed in 1789, with special attention paid to the tube, the mounting, and their accessories. Dignitaries and prominent astronomers from all over Europe came to view the 40-foot telescope, which had become a wonder of the world. Herschel was able to discover two new moons of Saturn with his new telescope, but it proved impossible to maintain and use efficiently. The finely engraved plates depict all of the components of the telescope in addition to highly detailed cross-sections and schematics. Herschel wrote no monographs, leaving his papers, most of which were published in the Philosophical Transactions, as his sole printed works. Very good copy of an uncommon offprint. Small two-inch tear to the first plate and head of spine worn. ❧ Henry C. King, The History of the Telescope, pp. 128-34. (Inventory #: 6026)
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