Sunday, November 6, 2011


Another Obs. rare from the OED meaning "Of or pertaining to handles, handle-like."

1664 H. Power Exper. Philos. Pref. sig. A4v, The secondary Planets of Saturn and Jupiter and his Ansulary appearances.

This is my excuse to post one of the nicer illustrations from the Huygens book (of the previous post). I kind of love it, and wonder if its real-life form/real life form is superior to the digital one. Very possibly not.

Before his Systema Saturnium, Huygens wrote De Saturni luna observatio nova (New observation of a moon of Saturn), published in 1656, which formally announced his discovery of Saturn's moon and casually announced his theory about Saturn's ring--and welcomed others to offer theirs. Not wanting to give it away just yet, he set down the theory in the form of a letter list:

a a a a a a a c c c c c d e e e e e h i i i i i i i l l l l m m n n n n n n n n n o o o o p p q r r s t t t t t u u u u u.

Annulo cingitur, tenui, plano, nusquam cohaerente, ad eclipticam inclinato (It is surrounded by a thin flat ring, nowhere touching, and inclined to the ecliptic).

According to the 1999 notes of Ronald Brashear, then "Curator of Science and Technology Rare Books in the Special Collections Department at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries" (and now at the Othmer Library), Systema Saturnium was printed in modern times (after more than a half-century) in 1925, "when it was published in volume 15 of Oeuvres compl├Ętes de Christiaan Huygens, a 22-volume set published over a sixty-year period by the Society of Sciences of Holland. The 1925 printing contained a French translation side-by-side with the original Latin text."

That would be interesting to see, the side-by-side translation.

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