Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way

Edward Emerson BARNARD

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“HARDLY A BRANCH OF ASTRONOMY WAS NOT ENRICHED BY HIS ATTENTION”: FIRST EDITION OF BARNARD’S IMPORTANT 1927 ATLAS OF THE MILKY WAY, WITH 51 FINE ORIGINAL SILVER PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS

BARNARD, Edward Emerson. A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way. (Chicago): Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1927. Two volumes. Oblong quarto, modern full blue morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers.

First edition of Barnard’s monumental atlas of key regions of the Milky Way galaxy, one of an edition of only 700 copies, illustrated with 51 fine black-and-white linen-backed silver photographic prints.

“At the age of 18 [Barnard] acquired from a boyhood friend a volume by the Reverend Thomas Dick, a writer of sermons and popular articles on astronomy, with ‘moral and religious reflections’ on the wonders of the universe. This book started Barnard on his career in astronomy… In 1877 Barnard bought a five-inch astronomical telescope, which cost him $380, two-thirds of his annual salary, and with it he began serious observing on his own, recording all that he saw… In 1895 Barnard… accepted a position at Yerkes Observatory… [and in 1897] succeeded in persuading Catherine Wolfe Bruce, a wealthy recluse, to provide funds to build a wide-field photographic telescope for him to use to continue his work on the Milky Way. It had a ten-inch lens, designed and made to the state of the art of the time, which thus produced considerably larger-scale photographs than the earlier telescope he had used… Barnard took this Bruce photographic telescope to Mount Wilson and in eight months in 1905 obtained a majority of the plates that were published in his posthumous atlas of the Milky Way… He had gone farther in astronomy with less formal education than anyone of his generation and had made numerous discoveries by the old visual methods and the new photographic ones” (ANB). He is best remembered for his discovery of Jupiter’s fifth satellite in 1892. “The foremost observational astronomer of his time, ranking with Sir William Herschel in the range of his contributions and in the peculiar intuitive genius and native instinct that formal training may discipline and supplement, but never supplant. Hardly a branch of astronomy was not enriched by his attention” (DSB I:463). The first volume contains 51 black-and-white, linen-backed silver photographic prints; prior to his death, Barnard had decided that no other method of reproduction would prove adequate, and Barnard himself shouldered “the heavy duty of personally inspecting every print of the 35,700 needed in the issue of an edition of 700 copies… [He] spared no pains to assure himself that the prints were uniform in quality and faithfully represented the originals” (Preface). The second volume presents a table and chart interpreting each photograph.

Interiors clean and fine, a bit of minor rubbing to extremities of original cloth. Near-fine condition. Scarce.

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