The Face of the Moon

2. Galilei, Galileo (1564-1642).

Sidereus nuncius. -- Frankfurt: in Paltheniano, 1610.

Galileo's sensational pamphlet quickly reached Germany, where it was reissued in a pirated edition in Frankfurt. In the haste of this surreptitious enterprise, little time or expense was devoted to copying Galileo's careful lunar engravings. Consequently, the Frankfurt edition contains woodcuts, not engravings, much less skillfully executed than the original illustrations. Even worse, the woodcuts are improperly oriented and identified.

None of this would be worth mentioning, except that the Frankfurt woodcuts were the source for the illustrations in most of the later editions of the Sidereus Nuncius, and in many moon handbooks right up to the present day. This has led unwary scholars, who fail to consult the first edition, unfairly to deprecate the Galileo images as crude and unrealistic.

image - click to enlarge

In the original edition, this page had two lunar engravings: the upper one showed the moon just before third quarter, and the lower one recorded the moon a day later. Here we have two woodcut copies of those engravings, but the order has been reversed, and both woodcuts have been printed upside down, so that the large crater is now at the top and Mare Imbrium is at the bottom.

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