Ignace Gaston Pardies - Scientist of the Day
Ignace Gaston Pardies, a French Jesuit scientist, was born Sep. 5, 1636. Pardies appears most often in historical narratives as an insightful critic of Newton’s early experiments on light, and as one of the earliest proponents of a wave theory of light. His star atlas is hardly ever mentioned, which we find perplexing, for not only is it his most impressive achievement, it is also one of the most pleasing and harmonious star atlases ever published. Nothing is known about how he compiled it, or whose observations he used, or who drew the constellation figures, but the resulting set of six plates is visually very appealing. The constellation figures are attractive and graceful, and they esthetically fit in with one another on the large plates, which is not at all the case with most star atlases of this type.
The Globi coelestis, as Pardies’ atlas was called, was first published in 1674, the year after Pardies’ early death, and it was reprinted around 1690, with the addition of the paths of several recent comets, including that of the comet of 1682, or Halley’s comet. Each edition of the Globi coelestis is quite scarce, and we are fortunate in the Linda Hall Library to have fine copies of each. We displayed both the 1674 edition and the 1690 edition in our 2007 exhibition, Out of This World.
The first two images above are from the 1674 edition, and the third is from the 1690 editon. In the last image, the line that begins above Virgo and shoots off over Leo’s back marks the path of the first appearance of Halley’s comet.
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City