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Tabulae Motuum Solis et Lunae novae et correctae auctore Tobia Mayer: quibis accredit methodus longitudinum promota, eodem auctore
London: William and John Richardson for Nourse, Mount and Page, 1770. Quarto, two separately paginated parts bound together with the errata leaves and two engraved folding plates; title-page a little toned, some offsetting affects one of the plates, a few old stamps (see below); very good in recent quarter mottled calf with gilt lettering, accompanied by an old manuscript leaf of calculations. The first complete and accurate publication of lunar and solar positions, a milestone in the history of the longitude problem.This book is the work of German cartographer Tobias Mayer, who in the process of reconciling land maps experienced similar challenges to a mariner in calculating accurate longitude. 'Mayer had to rely on the moon for fixed positions in time and space, just as a sailor would. And in the course of meeting his own needs for predicting the lunar position, he grasped an advance that applied directly to the longitude problem; he created the first set of lunar tables for the moon's location at twelve hour intervals' (Sobel, Longitude, p.97). Mayer's great contribution lay in his skilful use and co-ordination of pre-existing data, rather than novel thinking or deployment of advanced astronomical equipment. Accurate and comprehensive, Mayer's results appealed to those who used the lunar method to reckon the longitude (most significantly the Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne). Unfortunately his untimely decease in 1762 prevented Mayer claiming the enormous longitude prize promised by Parliament in 1713. Nonetheless his widow was awarded £3000 the following year and Mayer's tables were distributed by the Admiralty for use at sea. Maskelyne championed Mayer's case, having used his tables during the experimental voyage to St. Helena in 1761, and assiduously prepared them for publication in this book.Mayer's tables formed the basis for the lunar and solar ephemerides published in early editions of the Nautical Almanac, although by 1780 they were effectively superseded by more accurate measurements collected at the Greenwich Royal Observatory.This copy has a prestigious provenance, the title page bearing nineteenth-century blind and ink stamps of the Princeton University observatory library. It was later in the collection of Frank Streeter, with his bookplate. Norman 1468; Sotheran I, 2934-5.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2015-08-05           Check availability:      Biblio    

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