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Preliminary catalogue of fixed stars intended for a prospectus of a catalogue of the stars of the Southern Hemisphere included within the Tropic of Capricorn now reducing from the observations made in the observatory at Paramatta.
Hamburgh: Printed for Perthes & Besser 4to (25 cm; 10"). 20, xxv pp.. 1832 One has to say it plainly: this is => a foundation work of Australian science and an important one for the history of world astronomy — the first Australian star catalogue. Christian Carl Ludwig Rümker (a.k.a. Charles Rumker, 1788–1862) was born at Stargard, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Germany; he studied to be a builder and passed his master builder examination in 1807 but abandoned that career for teaching mathematics. Two years later, he gave that up in favor of the sea and England, serving variously as a midshipman in the East India Company, a helmsman in the merchant navy, a teacher of sea cadets, and an officer on H.M.S.'s Benbow, Montagu, and Albion. His introduction to astronomy came while on Mediterranean service, where he made the acquaintance of Baron Franz-Xaver de Zach, an Austrian astronomer. He published various papers and his work attracted favorable review. Captain Peter Heywood, under whom he had served in the Montagu, recommended him to Sir Thomas Brisbane, the newly appointed governor of Australia, and Rümker was engaged as the governor's private astronomer; he landed in Australia as a member of the Brisbane party. Once Gov. Brisbane's Parramatta observatory was completed in 1822 he began his work, and made significant discoveries, but friction with Brisbane caused him to resign; he returned to Parramatta in 1826, was appointed the official government astronomer in 1827, and continued thus through the end of the decade. For his later life, quarrels, and achievements we recommend the fine article in the online Australian Dictionary of Biography. Rumker’s catalogue of stars visible in the southern hemisphere had both a purely scientific aim and a practical one. The systematic study and cataloguing of the stars visible with the aid of observatory-based telescopy in the southern hemisphere was in its infancy in the 1820s: The Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope was established in 1820 and was the first permanent astronomical observatory in the southern hemisphere. Thus one can see the importance of Parramatta being up and working in 1822. On the practical side, Gov. Brisbane was a naval officer who knew the importance of the stars in navigation. Rumker’s work and his catalogue served both science and the Royal Navy, as he offered "Constants of Aberration and Nutation"; a "Comparison of my Observations with those made by La Caille"; and notes on "Double Stars," "Magnitudes and Colour of the Stars, Nebula's, &c.," and so forth — with the grand quotation of our caption being taken from his Preface. Searches of NUC and WorldCat locate only nine copies in U.S. libraries. Provenance: Presented to Alexander Dallas Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin and at the time of publication of this work a professor of natural philosophy and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania: "Professor A.D. Bache / with the author's Compts." in ink on the front wrapper. Publisher's blue-green wrappers, text block stitched as issued. Overall age-toning; occasional foxing; faint waterstaining in upper third of most pages. Overall a good++ copy.
      [Bookseller: Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Co]
Last Found On: 2016-03-19           Check availability:      IOBABooks    


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