SCHEINER, Christoph. Rosa Ursina, sive sol ex admirando facularum & macularum suarum phoenomeno varius

Bracciano, Andreas Phaeus at the Ducal Press., 1626-1630

Folio (347 x 248mm). Half-title with engraved portrait and dedication to Paolo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano on verso, additional engraved title, printed title with large engraved vignette, 168 engraved illustrations, many full-page, woodcut head- and tailpieces and initials, with the blank 4I6, errata at end., lacking the blanks F4 & R6. Some browning and spotting, stronger at beginning and end, occasional soiling. Contemporary italian stiff vellum binding, manuscript title on spine. A good copy.

First edition of Scheiner important treatise on the sun and sunspots. Scheiner first observed sunspots in March 1611 and had his discovery published pseudonymously the following year. This sparked a conflict with Galileo, who claimed priority of discovery when, in fact, their observations were made independently. ‘Because of the conservative stand of the Jesuit order on cosmological issues, Scheiner attempted to rescue the perfection of the Sun, and by implication the heavens generally, from imperfection. He therefore postulated that sunspots were caused by satellites of the Sun whose shadows are projected on to Sun’s disk as they cross in front of it. His tract, Tres Epistolae de Maculis Solaribus appeared in Augsburg early in 1612, under the pseudonym Apelles latens post tabulam. These letters addressed to Marc Welser, an Augsburg banker and scholar who was a friend and patron to Jesuit scholars. Welser invited Galileo to comment on these letters, and Galileo responded with two letters to Welser of his own in which he argued that sunspots are on or near the surface of the Sun, that they change their shape, that they are often seen to originate on the solar disk and perish there, and that therefore the Sun is not perfect. In the meantime, Scheiner had written two further letters to Welser on this subject, and after reading Galileo’s first letter he wrote yet another. This second series of three letters was published by Welser in the fall of 1612, with the title De Maculis Solaribus et Stellis circa Iovis Errantibus Accuratior Disquisition. Again, Scheiner used the pseudonym of Apelles. Scheiner restated his argument that sunspots were caused by satellites and argued that Jupiter had more satellites than the four discovered by Galileo. Upon reading this tract, Galileo wrote yet a third sunspot letter to Welser, dated December 1612, and in 1613 the Lyncean Academy published all three letters under the title Istoria e Dimostrazioni intorno alle Macchie Solari e loro Accidenti. A third of the copies contained reprints of Scheiner’s two tracts. Although he was polite to Scheiner, Galileo refuted his arguments and there was little doubt as to who was the winner of this dispute. […] In his Saggiatore of 1623, Galileo had made certain disparaging remarks about those who had tried to steal his priority of discovery of celestial phenomena. Although Galileo almost certainly had others in mind, Scheiner interpreted these remarks as being directed against him. He therefore devoted the first book of Rosa Ursina to an all out attack on Galileo, and it has been said that his enmity toward Galileo was instrumental in starting the trial against the Florentine in 1633. Scheiner’s diatribe against Galileo does, however, not take away from the importance of Rosa Ursina. Here Scheiner agreed with Galileo that sunspots are on the Sun’s surface or in its atmosphere, that they are often generated and perish there, and that the Sun is therefore not perfect. Scheiner further advocated a fluid heavens (in contrast to the Aristotelian solid spheres), and he pioneered new ways of representing the motions of spots across the Sun’s face. Because shortly after the appearance of Rosa Ursina sunspot activity decreased drastically (the so-called Maunder Minimum, ca. 1645-1710), his work was not superseded until well into the eighteenth century’. (

Cinti 79; Sommervogel VII, 738, no. 8; Honeyman Coll. 2781.

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