Astronomy & Cosmology

Jeans, James | The Stars in Their Courses

  • First edition, first impression. Rare in the jacket and much less common than the US edition published by Macmillan in the same year. This copy with the bookplate of Edward Beldam Diver, London manager of the Cambridge University Press (The Historical Register of the University of Cambridge. Supplement, 1921-1930).

    Author James Jeans (1877-1946) was a respected Cambridge mathematician and astronomer, best known for his work on rotating, gravitational bodies, "a problem of fundamental importance that had already been tackled by some of the leading mathematicians" (ODNB), and the motions, structures, and life-cycles of stars and stellar clusters.

    "In 1928 Jeans's academic work Astronomy and Cosmogony came to the attention of S. C. Roberts, the secretary of Cambridge University Press, who appreciated the general interest of its subject matter and the attraction of Jeans's writing style. He persuaded Jeans to write a popular account, The Universe Around Us, which was published by the press in 1929" (ODNB). Jeans' popularity as a writer "depended partly on his topic — new, thought provoking views of the universe — and partly on his style, which combined an authoritative knowledge of the subject with a vivid turn of phrase" (ODNB).

    The present volume was his third popular work, with the dust jacket prominently advertising the previous two. It is based on a series of radio broadcasts written for listeners with no previous scientific knowledge, and with the hope of introducing them to “the fascination of modern astronomy” and “the wonder of the universe we see through the giant telescopes of to-day” (preface).

  • Cambridge: at the University Press, 1931.

    Octavo. Original blue cloth, titles to spine gilt. With the dust jacket. Black and white frontispiece and 46 plates, 2 folding astronomical charts. Contemporary bookplate of Edward Beldam Diver. Spine very slightly faded, cloth a little rubbed at the tips. A very good copy in the rubbed and creased jacket with tanned spine panel and some nicks and small chips.