Vorstellung der Sonnenfinsternis des 8 ten Jener 1750...
GEORG MORITZ LOWITZ
Published 1749, Nuremberg
Size: 13" X 14"
An extremely rare broadside predicting the Solar Eclipse of January 8th 1750 in six world cities. The cities, which each had major astronomical observatories include; Lisbon, Rome, Nuremberg, Berlin, St-Petersburg and Goa.
Lowitz’s broadside is interesting in that it includes an annotation that provides the viewer with a set of instructions to create a volvelle and thus help re-create the movement of the moon at the different stages of the solar eclipse from the various cities listed.
It has been noted that;
“total eclipses are rare because the timing of the new moon within the eclipse season needs to be more exact for an alignment between the observer (on Earth) and the centers of the Sun and Moon. In addition, the elliptical orbit of the Moon often takes it far enough away from Earth that its apparent size is not large enough to block the Sun entirely. Total solar eclipses are rare at any particular location because totality exists only along a narrow path on the Earth's surface traced by the Moon's full shadow or umbra.”
This broadside followed shortly after Lowitz’ renown work of Kurze Erklärung über zwei astronomische Karten von der Sonnen (A Brief explanation of two astronomical maps of the solar or eclipse of the earth July 25, 1748) was published. As such, his work in the field of mathematics and physics made him one of the most important members at the firm of Homann Heirs in Nuremberg when he joined in 1746. It should be noted that Lowitz, along with Tobias Mayer and Johann Michael Franz also founded the Cosmographic Society in the same year as his joining the prestigious firm of Homann Heirs. It has been argued that it was more than mere coincidence that Lowitz had joined this firm at the same time as the founding of the Cosmographic Society. This is based on the fact that pamphlets were printed by Homann Heirs in 1746 shortly after the founding of the society and Lowitz joining the firm. This pamphlet advertised the intent to produce two 36 inch globes contracted to the Cosmographic Society. A second pamphlet was published in 1749 by Lowitz, the same year as the current broadside, that gave an update on the production of these globes and the delays due to the problems experienced. It has been argued that the contract to produce and sell the said globes to the Cosmographic Society was a sham intended to garner interest and sales for these globes, which in the end, were never produced.
Although these globes were never produced, and the events surrounding their advertisement was somewhat deceptive, Lowitz’s stature as scientist remained intact and he would eventually leave the firm in 1757 to become professor of Mathematics at Göttingen University and eventually a surveyor in St Petersburg, Russia.
Lowitz’s broadside is a rare item produced for the scientific society in the Age of Enlightenment where the pursuit of science greatly influenced the world of ideas.