The solar eclipse of 1737

By WRIGHT, Thomas, 1736 

The General Construction &c of a Solar Eclipse which will happen on the 12th degree of Pisces on the 18th day of February 1736/7 Humbly inscribed to the President Council & Fellows of the Royal Society. By Thomas Wright of the City of Durham. Sold by Iohn Senex at the Globe over against St. Dunstans Church in Fleetstreet. Where may be had two large Hemispheres containing all the Stars in Mr. Flamstead’s Catalogue as publish’d by Dr. Haley, with Bayer’s letters of refference incerted projected both on the Plan of the Ecliptic and Equator, price of either 6s. also Dr Haley’s Zodiac price 6s. Mr. Whiston’s Solar System price 2s. 6d. Hevelius and Ricciolus Maps of the Moon 1s. each. And the best Globes of 3. 9. 12. 17. 28 inches Diamr. containing more on them than ever was incerted on any Globes before.

  • Author: WRIGHT, Thomas
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: John Senex
  • Publication date: 1736
  • Physical description: Engraved print, small open tear and foxing on left.
  • Dimensions: 595 by 460mm. (23.5 by 18 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 11289


Thomas Wright of Durham (1711–1786) was a keen astronomer, mathematician, cartographer and instrument-maker (often confused with the London instrument-maker of the same name) who published a number of items relating to eclipses, both books and broadsides.

This sheet is a mixture of geometrical and geographical data predicting the 1737 eclipse. It is one of the most elaborate of the contemporary eclipse maps, with the entire blank area around the map given over to scientific data. The data includes detailed calculations for the path and appearance of the eclipse, with particular drawings (and tables) for London, Paris, Dublin and Edinburgh, and smaller diagrams for Aberdeen, York, Amsterdam and Madrid. The central part of the sheet is an angled view of the Eastern Hemisphere overlaid with circles representing the movement of the penumbra.

The earliest advertisement encountered was placed in the London Evening Post (issue 1383) for 25th — 28th September, 1736, almost as an afterthought, at the end of an announcement for a map of Lesser Tartary which concludes:
“… Sold by John Senex at the Globe over-against St. Dunstan’s Church in Fleet-street. Where may be had, A Map, shewing the Passage of the Penumbra over England, Scotland and Ireland, in the Annular Eclipse of the Sun, that will happen in February next, price 1s. Also the General Construction of the same Eclipse, curiously delineated, price 1s. 6d.“
It was more heavily advertised in early 1737 (as one might expect) as the actual event drew closer.