One of the Earliest Books to Suggest the Possibility of Extraterrestrial Life

    Christiaan Huygens. KOΣMOΘEΩPOΣ [Cosmotheros], sive De Terris Coelestibus earumque Ornatu, Conjecturae ad Constantinum Hugenium. Hagae-Comitum: Adrianum Joetjens, 1698. First edition. Small quarto. Approximately 7.75 x 5.75 inches. [ii], 144 pages. With five folding engraved plates inserted. Bound to style in modern full dark brown calf, covers decoratively paneled in blind, spine tooled in blind, four raised bands, new endleaves. Some rubbing to binding, a few repairs to title-page at fore-edge (not affecting text), a few pages mildly chipped at fore-edge, some minor foxing. Library inkstamp on title-page (again, not affecting text). Overall, a near fine copy of this interesting book.

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    This is one of the most popular of Huygens' writings. It was based upon Copernican theory of the universe, and it contains Huygens' controversial argument putting forth the possibility of the existence of life on other planets (he assumed that the Earth was not the center of the universe and not the only world capable of supporting life). In the second part of this work, Huygens discussed the different movements of heavenly bodies and how they may appear to inhabitants of different worlds. Huygens (1629-1695) was a brilliant scientist who made many valuable contributions to mathematics, mechanics, astronomy and optics. This book also has a history of his improvement of telescope lenses, which led to the discovery of the rings around Saturn.

    DSB, VI, pp. 610-611. Gascoigne 2375. Wellcome, III, p. 324. Wolf, History of Science, I, pp. 162-163.

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