A Cycle of Celestial Objects for the Use of Naval, Military, and Private Astronomers. Volume 1: Prolegomena; Volume II: The Bedford Catalogue.
by SMYTH, Captain William Henry (1788-1865).
London:: John W. Parker, 1844.. 2 volumes. 8vo. viii, , 516; xx, 560 pp. Original half purple calf, gilt-stamped spines, decorative publishers cloth sides, green floral pattern endleaves; rubbed. Ownership signatures of H.J. Lewis and Rev. J.B. Allison (of Chesterfield, a star-gazer in 1883). Very good. WITH AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR. Very Scarce. The true first edition of William Henry Smyths classic handbook intended for amateur astronomers. George Lovi calls it THE FIRST TRUE CELESTIAL BAEDEKER and not just another cold catalogue of mere numbers and data. ¶ AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR [to an unknown astronomer]: On his personal stationary St. Johns Lodge, near Aplesbury, [U.K.]. dated 11-10-58 [October 11, 1858]. My dear colleague, When I sent you a copy of my lugubrious Farewell to e Virginis, I think I omitted to enclose a set of the measures upon which her present epoch is based, - so here it is. / I propose to be at Almacks next Thursday (D.V.) – at 6 P.M. – in the hope of meeting you there, & meantime am, as always, Yours most truly, W.H. Smyth. ¶ St. Johns Lodge [Cardiff] was the authors home as well as the place where he made many of his astronomical observations and calculations. ¶ In 1825 Smyth established a private observatory in Bedford, England, equipped with a 5.9-inch refractor telescope. He used this instrument to observe a variety of deep sky objects over the course of the 1830s, including double stars, star clusters and nebulae. He published his observations in 1844 in the Cycle of Celestial Objects, which earned him the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1845 and also the presidency of the society. The first volume of this work was on general astronomy, but the second volume became known as the Bedford Catalogue and contained Smyths observations of 1,604 double stars and nebulae. It served as a standard reference work for many years afterward; no astronomer had previously made as extensive a catalogue of dim objects such as this. It was reprinted in 1986, and in the Foreword to that edition George Lovi writes, What makes it so special is that it is the first true celestial Baedeker and not just another cold catalogue of mere numbers and data. Like the original Baedeker travel guidebooks of the last century, this work is full of colorful commentary on the highlights of the heavenly scene and heavily influenced several subsequent works of its type, even to the present day. ... It is in the descriptive material that Smyth is a delight. He not only describes what the user of a small telescope will see, but also includes much fascinating astronomical, mythological, and historical lore. Many of these descriptions are especially valuable for the novice and user of small telescopes of a size similar to Smyths. ¶ See: (2008). William H. Smyth, The Bedford Catalog from Cycle of Celestial Objects; foreword by George Lovi, 1986. ¶ Admiral William Henry Smyth KFM DCL FRS FRAS FRGS FSA (1788-1865), born in Westminster, England, was an English naval officer, hydrographer, astronomer and numismatist. He is noted for his involvement in the early history of a number of learned societies, for his hydrographic charts, astronomical work, and a wide range of publications and translations. He died at his home in St. Johns Lodge, Cardiff, and buried in the little churchyard at Stone near Aylesbury. (Inventory #: S13118)
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