Francesco Bianchini (1662-1729). Hesperi et Phosphori nova phaenomena, sive, Observationes circa planetam Veneris. Rome: Giovanni Maria Salvioni, 1728. Purchased as the gift of Mr. & Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr., and on the L. Colgate Harper Fund, 2010.
One of the most respected scholars of early 18th-century Europe, Bianchini spent his career in Rome working for or near the courts of three different popes and numerous cardinals. This makes the scale of his astronomical investigations all the more impressive. While he (wisely) never took a position on the theories of Copernicus, he was the first to publish observations on the rotation of Venus, courtesy of the massive telescope designed for him by Giuseppe Campani. These observations, along with the first portrayal of the lunar Alpine Valley and instructions for constructing one’s own model globe of Venus were set forth in this lavish large folio volume, dedicated to his generous patron, João V, King of Portugal.