The Face of the Moon

12. Mayer, Tobias (1723-1762).

Bericht von den Mondskugeln. -- Nuremberg: Zu finden in der Homännischen Officin, 1750.

Mayer introduced the revolutionary idea of using a micrometer within the telescope to determine the exact positions of the lunar features. He began his lunar studies in 1748 and made at least 40 detailed drawings of various regions, from which he planned to construct both a lunar map and a lunar globe. In 1750 the Cosmographical Society of Nuremberg issued a prospectus for the globe, which included two plates, made from Mayer's drawings, to demonstrate the quality of his observations. The lunar globe was never produced, as the publisher flirted with bankruptcy, and Mayer became involved in other projects. But his two lunar maps and his careful drawings were eventually published (see items 13 and 25).

image - click to enlarge

This plate, which shows the region in the lunar highlands around Scheiner and Longomontanus, is remarkable for two reasons. First, it is a mezzotint, the first time this technique was used for a lunar map (if we except a tiny text engraving of the crater Plato by Bianchini, not shown, but in item 11). Second, the engraver failed to reverse the drawing, and so the craters which appear here on the left of the terminator should actually lie on the right. As the caption belatedly explains: "If you want to view the print correctly, you must hold it up to a mirror."

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