November 14, 2015

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A 1689 Swedish Book on the Moon

Originally published November 13, 2004


Image Credit: Chuck Wood

A 1689 Swedish Book on the Moon

This previously unknown ancient book on the Moon turned up on Ebay recently. I say previously unknown because neither Ewen Whitaker nor I had ever heard of it - perhaps an LPOD reader can tell us more about it. The book was published in Uppsala, Sweden in 1689 and is in Latin, as was common then, and has the title, Disputation on the Moon Selenography. Apparently the author is Andraeae Spole, but I am not sure why the name Samuel A. Krokius appears on the title page. This is a very early lunar book, coming 42 years after Hevelius' masterpiece Selenographia, the first book devoted to the Moon. Take a close look at the full Moon map above - do you notice anything odd? The map is printed backwards, it is a mirror image of the correct orientation. The map is a clear copy of Hevelius' map. Another plate in the book shows maps of first and last quarter - but instead of using maps made from actual observations that show shadows along the terminator, the author has simply cut the full Moon view into two halves! It would be fascinating to have the Latin translated to see if the text is as confused as the maps. Googling the name Spole I discovered that he was the first Swedish astronomer and was a professor and text-book author. Perhaps this was the first text book about the Moon! I wonder what was on the final exam!

Chuck Wood

Technical Details:
The book is small, about the size of the palm of my hand, and only about 50 pages long. No one else bid on it so it sold for the starting price of 299 euros - about $390.

Related Links:
Anders Spole

Yesterday's LPOD: A Giant Messier

Tomorrow's LPOD: Longo and Far Away

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



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