Cassini family
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The work of the Cassinis and Maraldis

Photo of Saturn and its rings

It is intended that this part of the site will give a very short description of the impact on astronomy of the Cassini and Maraldi families.

As you will see, this has yet to be written… For those who are unfamiliar with the technique, the Latin text is known as ‘greeking’ and is placed in documents to create the effect of normal text.

The image to the right is of Saturn and its rings taken from the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft.

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Cassini’s map of the moon

Giovanni Domenico Cassini is remembered for – and his name is associated with – a large variety of astronomical and cartographical initiatives and discoveries as the preceding page on his life and work noted.

The map of the moon according to Giovanni Domenico Cassini

This illustration is of his map of the moon, organised in the period September 1671 to February 1679 when it was presented to the Académie des Sciences. The map was engraved by Jean Patigny. The geographer, Sebastien LeClerc was involved in the early stages of the eight year project, but the majority of the work was Patigny’s, based on Cassini’s observations made with the Giuseppe Campani lenses which he brought with him to Paris, and which were supplemented by a thirty-four foot telescope from Campani of Rome in 1672.

The 53 cm diameter first edition map was published in 1679. It was not until 1787 that a second edition was published, identical with the first though with ‘Carte de la Lune…de Jean Dominique Cassini’ added to the bottom rim. If the map is compared with a modern map of the moon it will be seen to be remarkably accurate.

The activities of the Académie des Sciences were very important and King Louis XIV took a keen interest in them. Here you may be interested to see an illustration of the presentation by Colbert of the members of the Académie to King Louis.

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The Moon Maiden

Detail of a map of the moon drawn by Jean Dominique Cassini

As I mentioned previously, Giovanni Domenico Cassini moved to Paris and married Geneviève Delaistre in November 1673, changing his name to Jean Dominique Cassini as he took French nationality. His drawing of the moon has, tucked away in the bottom right hand corner, what appears to be a portrait of a woman, known as the ‘Moon Maiden’. This is commonly thought to be a portrait of Geneviève. Confirmation of this is tenuous, however, in 1678, Jean Dominique commissioned a pen-and-ink portrait of his wife from Jean Baptiste Patigny, the son of the artist and engraver of Jean Dominique’s map of the Moon of 1679, which gives some credence to the possibility.

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The Cassini family
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