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A very rare comet pamphlet

Special Collections’ newest addition to the History of Science collection is a comet pamphlet by Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius. The Epistola ad amicum de cometa, anno 1677 (in English: Letter to a Friend on the Comet of 1677) is Hevelius’s rarest publication – only one other copy exists in North American libraries.

200px-Hevelius_and_wifeHevelius (pictured here taking observations with his wife and assistant, Elisabeth) observed this comet from April 27 to May 8, 1677, and had his observations printed at his own private printing press. Hevelius usually did not sell his writings; instead, he distributed them to colleagues at his own discretion.

Special Collections owns a near-complete collection of Hevelius’ printed works, as well as some of his original astronomical manuscripts and correspondence. We are very pleased to add this work to our Hevelius collection!

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