The Geography of the Great Solar Eclipse of July 14, MDCCXLVIII
Published 1748, London
Size: 12" X 17"
A rare and informative map published in January 1748 depicting the path of the solar eclipse predicted for July 14th of the same year. The map was originally published in George Smith’s A dissertation on the general properties of eclipses; and particularly the ensuing eclipse on 1748, considered thro all its periods.
The map, illustrates the Northern Hemisphere with a conic projection from the North Pole and is adorned with twenty four insets showing different views of the eclipse from different cities such as London, Edinburg, and Dublin, as well as those in other parts of the world such as Boston, Quebec, Goa, Cairo, Jerusalem, Moscow, etc.
It should be noted that Jefferys’ map of the solar eclipse was important as those published by other firms in Britain as well as on the continent because this phenomena was of particular concern to society in the 18th Century. In fact, it has been argued that:
“Part of the reason that 18th-century scientists produced groundbreaking eclipse maps is that there were so many eclipses in this time period—two annular and five total solar eclipses in the British Islands alone, which is a greater frequency than normal. Popular publishers …wanted to produce broadsides that could help inform the public about the terrifying wonder that would cross the sky.”
Furthermore, the increase in the frequency of this natural phenomena also coincidently occurred during the height of the Age of Enlightenment where scientific enquiry and its propagation greatly influenced the world of ideas and the focus of different scientific publishing firms such as those of Thomas Jefferys. Eclipses, which had in the past, had been seen as ominous omens, were now of interest be to the scientific community engaged in the Age of Enlightenment as well as to the general public at large interested in their predictability.
Jefferys’ map is thus a reminder of how scientific enquiry has helped not only to advance society materially, but also helped quell some of its fears of natural phenomenas.
(Atals Obscura, How Edmond Halley Kicked Off the Golden Age of Eclipse Mapping.)