Item #5000809 Preliminary Catalogue of Fixed Stars intended for a Prospectus of a Catalogue of the Stars of the Southern Hemisphere included within the Tropic of Capricorn now reducing from the Observations made in the Observatory at Paramatta [sic]. Christian Carl Ludwig RUMKER, Charles Stargard.
Preliminary Catalogue of Fixed Stars intended for a Prospectus of a Catalogue of the Stars of the Southern Hemisphere included within the Tropic of Capricorn now reducing from the Observations made in the Observatory at Paramatta [sic].

Preliminary Catalogue of Fixed Stars…
Preliminary Catalogue of Fixed Stars intended for a Prospectus of a Catalogue of the Stars of the Southern Hemisphere included within the Tropic of Capricorn now reducing from the Observations made in the Observatory at Paramatta [sic].

Hamburg: Printed for Perthes and Besser, 1832.

Large quarto, 252 x 218 mm, pp 20, [ii], XXV; stab-sewn in the original blue-grey limp paper wrappers, with a presentation inscription on the front wrapper; preserved in a fitted quarter morocco bookform case.

Presentation copy of the very rare first Australian star catalogue, by the first Government Astronomer

Very rare, a pioneering foundation work of Australian science and important in the history of world astronomy: the first Australian star catalogue, this copy inscribed by the author to Alexander Dallas Bache (1806–1867), scientist and educator, the great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. This elusive book was probably printed in very small numbers for a specialist audience; just two copies are recorded in Australian libraries (NLA and SLNSW).

Very rare, a pioneering foundation work of Australian science and important in the history of world astronomy: the first Australian star catalogue, this copy inscribed by the author to Alexander Dallas Bache (1806–1867), scientist and educator, the great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. This elusive book was probably printed in very small numbers for a specialist audience; just two copies are recorded in Australian libraries (NLA and SLNSW).

Christian Carl Ludwig Rümker (1788-1862), German astronomer, arrived in England in 1809, working for the East India Company and the merchant navy, before being press-ganged into the Royal Navy in 1813. Over the next few years he began making observations, including publishing the results of work he did at Malta. Recommended with an introduction -- by Captain Peter Heywood, the involuntary participant in the Bounty mutiny -- to the incoming Governor of New South Wales, Thomas Macdougall Brisbane, himself a keen astronomer, he arrived as part of the official party in 1821, beginning work at Brisbane's Parramatta observatory, near Sydney, where he made several discoveries including "Encke's Comet". A bitter disagreement with Brisbane led him to resign his post, and to retreat to his new property at Picton, "Stargard".

In 1826 he returned to Parramatta at the behest of Alexander Macleay, and was appointed government astronomer in December 1827, the first person to hold that title. He returned to London at the end of the decade, but another quarrel, this time with the president of the Royal Astronomical Society, Sir James South, led to Rümker finally being dismissed from British service and returning to Hamburg. Still working as an astronomer, at some point he became reconciled to Brisbane, as is shown by the present work's dedication to him as "late Governor in Chief of Australia and Founder of the Observatory at Paramatta [sic]".

Rümker's later career was prolific, publishing scores of papers and being honoured with many fellowships, and continuing to work on his trail-blazing Parramatta observations. He died at Lisbon in 1862. "When awarding the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society to Rümker, the astronomer royal, Sir George Biddell Airy, said that Rümker's dismissal was 'the greatest misfortune that happened to Southern Astronomy'" (ADB).

Bache, to whom Rümker presented this copy, would later play a significant role as Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey, which he built into the foremost scientific institution in the country before the Civil War. At the time of the presentation of this work by Rümker, however, he was a professor of natural philosophy and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, eventually becoming president of the college. He was "The most dominant figure in American science prior to and during the Civil War... either related to or friends with many high government officials and military and naval officers; and friend, ally, and colleague of many of the scientific luminaries of the age" (NOAA online). Interestingly, this presentation copy did not travel far from Pennsylvania as it was discovered by the dealers, since retired, Philadelphia Rare Books. They located a total of nine copies held in North American libraries. In Australia, Trove can identify just two copies, at the National Library and the State Library of NSW.

Rümker's catalogue of stars visible in the southern hemisphere had both a purely scientific aim and a practical one. The systematic study and cataloguing of the stars visible with the aid of observatory-based telescopy in the southern hemisphere was in its infancy in the 1820s: The Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope, established in 1820, was the first permanent astronomical observatory in the southern hemisphere, which oints to the significance of the Parramatta Observatory being up and working by 1822. On the practical side, Governor Brisbane was a naval officer who knew the importance of the stars in navigation. Rümker's work and his catalogue served both science and the Royal Navy, as he offered "Constants of Aberration and Nutation"; a "Comparison of my Observations with those made by La Caille"; and notes on "Double Stars," "Magnitudes and Colour of the Stars, Nebulas, &c" and other similar pieces.

Rümker, Christian Carl Ludwig (1788-1862) by G. F. J. Bergman (Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967).

Christian Carl Ludwig Rümker (1788-1862), astronomer, was born on 18 May 1788 at Stargard, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Germany, the son of J. F. Rümker, court-councillor. He showed a talent for mathematics, and his father sent him to the Builders' Academy at Berlin where in 1807 he passed the state examination as a master builder. He was disinclined to follow this trade and, after working for about two years as a teacher of mathematics in Hamburg, went to England in 1809. From 1809 to 1811 he served as a midshipman in the East India Co. and then entered the merchant navy, where he became a helmsman. Seized by a press-gang in July 1813, he accepted a position as teacher of sea cadets with officer's rank and served in H.M.S. Benbow, Montagu and Albion. In 1816 he took part in a punitive expedition against Algiers. During his Mediterranean service he made the acquaintance of Baron Franz-Xaver de Zach, an Austrian astronomer, who induced him to pursue the study of astronomy. His first publications about observations at Malta in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal of 1819 drew the attention of other scientists to his work, with much effect on his career.

Discharged from the navy in 1819 he returned to Hamburg, where he was employed as teacher at the school of navigation. Recommended to Sir Thomas Brisbane by Captain Peter Heywood, under whom he had served in the Montagu, Rümker was engaged as the newly appointed governor's private astronomer. He arrived in Sydney with the official party in 1821 and worked at Brisbane's private observatory at Parramatta where on 2 June 1822 he rediscovered Encke's comet. For this achievement Rümker was awarded a silver medal and £100 by the Royal Astronomical Society and a gold medal by the Institut de France. The grateful governor bestowed on Rümker a grant of 1000 acres (405 ha) at Stonequarry Creek (Picton). Disagreements with Brisbane over private and professional matters, as well as animosity towards his collaborator in the observatory, James Dunlop, led in June 1823 to Rümker's retirement to his farm which he had named Stargard after his birthplace. There, on Reservoir Hill he continued his observations and discovered two comets in the constellation Lion.

In London Captain Heywood had pleaded his case with Alexander McLeay, the new colonial secretary who, after Brisbane's departure, recalled Rümker to Parramatta where he recommenced work in May 1826 and in September discovered a new comet in the constellation Orion. On 21 December 1827 Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling appointed him government astronomer; he was the first to hold that title in Australia.

In 1828 Rümker received a second land grant of 1000 acres (405 ha) at Stargard and later acquired another 200 acres (81 ha) by deed. In February 1828 the Senate of Hamburg elected him director of its school of navigation, but Rümker did not even answer the senate's letter as he did not wish to relinquish his Australian position. In January 1829 he went to London to obtain new instruments for the Parramatta observatory and to induce the Royal Society to print his Astronomical Observations Made at the Observatory at Parramatta in New South Wales. These were published in 1829 as a supplementary volume to the Philosophical Transactions at government expense. His return to Parramatta seemed assured when he became involved in a quarrel with Sir James South, president of the Royal Astronomical Society, who used his influence to have Rümker finally dismissed from British government service in June 1830. Rümker returned to Hamburg, where in 1831 he became director of the school of navigation and in 1833 also director of the Hamburg observatory. In 1831 Rümker published in Hamburg, On the Most Effectual Means of Encouraging Scientific Undertakings, a bitter pamphlet about his dismissal, but later he became reconciled with Brisbane. He dedicated to Brisbane his Preliminary Catalogue of Fixed Stars Intended for a Prospectus of a Catalogue of the Stars of the Southern Hemisphere Included Within the Tropic of Capricorn now Reduced from the Observations Made in the Observatory at Parramatta (Hamburg, 1832).

In later years Rümker displayed great scientific activity. The Catalogue of Scientific Papers (1871), compiled by the Royal Society of London, lists 233 papers by him in various scientific journals. Many learned societies honoured him with membership and fellowship. In 1850 the King of Hanover conferred on him his gold medal for arts and science. The greatest satisfaction in his life came in 1854 when the Royal Astronomical Society gave him its gold medal. In 1857 he was granted permanent leave for health reasons. He went to Lisbon, where he continued to reduce his Parramatta observations. In Hamburg Professor George F. W. Rümker, the illegitimate son of his housekeeper, became his successor as director of the Hamburg observatory. In 1848 Rümker had married a spinster, Mary Ann Crockford of Clerkenwell, Middlesex; they had no children. He died at Lisbon on 21 December 1862 and was buried in the churchyard of the English church at Estrella.

Rümker was a man of great integrity and indefatigable diligence, but he was headstrong and of a somewhat violent character. When awarding the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society to Rümker, the astronomer royal, Sir George Biddell Airy, said that Rümker's dismissal was 'the greatest misfortune that happened to Southern Astronomy', a comment that did less than justice to James Dunlop, Rümker's associate and successor at Parramatta.

Some of Rümker's work was published over the name Charles Stargard Rümker, his land was granted to Charles Luis Rümker and the Royal Astronomical Society presented its medal to Dr P. Karl Rümker.

Provenance: Inscribed by Rümker on the front wrapper "Professor A[lexander] D[allas] Bache with the author's Comp[limen]ts"; at one time with Philadelphia Rare Books, USA.

Ferguson, 1588; G. F. J. Bergman, 'Rümker, Christian Carl Ludwig (1788-1862)', Australian Dictionary of Biography (online resource); ibid, G. F. J. Bergman, 'Christian Carl Ludwig Rümker (1788-1862), Australia's First Government Astronomer', Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), 46 (1960); Rümker letters, 1825-49 (State Library of New South Wales); correspondence with Dr John Lee (State Library of Victoria).

Condition Report: Neat repair at spine; a little old staining to upper fore-corners.

Price (AUD): $19,500.00

US$12,655.46   Other currencies

Ref: #5000809

Condition Report