BAYER, Johann (1572-1625). Uranometria, omnium asterismorum continens schemata, nova methodo delineata, aeris laminisexpressa. Ulm: Johann Gorlinus, 1639.
Folio (12 3/8 x 8 1/2 inches). Engraved title-page and 51 full-sheet engraved star charts (lacking all text). [INTERLEAVED WITH]: the text of Bayer's Explicatio characterum aeneis uranometrias imaginum, tabulis, insculptorum, addita, Ulm: Balthasar Kühn for Johannes Görlin, 1640; 4to (8 x 6 inches); engraved title-page (slightly frayed at edges, occasional minor soiling). Contemporary vellum; a bit worn and soiled.
Provenance: Several pages of the text have early annotations by a student; with an 18th-century small ink library stamp "CC" to the foot of the title-page; with the armorial bookplate of Philip M. Chancellor
An intriguing early edition of the first accurate star atlas, first published in 1603, combining the engraved plates from the second edition with the text from a scarce unillustrated scholarly edition of the work, first published in 1624. Based on the binding, the text and plates were combined shortly after publication, probably when a remainder set of the engravings was discovered.
Bayer's was the first accurate star atlas. A lawyer and amateur astronomer, he was the first to signify the location of stars within a given constellation by the use of Greek letters (with the addition of the Latin alphabet for constellations with more than 24 stars). This strikingly simple innovation greatly improved the identification of stars with the naked eye, just five or six years before the invention of the telescope. Bayer's stellar nomenclature is still in use today. Honeyman 246; Norman 142; Deborah Warner, The Sky Explored: Celestial Cartography 1500-1800, pp 18–19; Zimmer 3951