Rare 17th-Century book on alien life discovered

science & space
Published in 1698, the book offers a unique look into how people from the time perceived the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Discovered by books valuer Jim Spencer at an antique valuation event in Gloucestershire, England, the book was written by Christiaan Huygens and explores the possible existence of extraterrestrial entities while posing the question of why God would have created other planets solely for us to look at.

It’s title – “The Celestial World Discover’d: Or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets” – is certainly a mouthful.

Many of the ideas and conclusions Huygens reaches in the book seem a bit strange by today’s standards, however they are consistent with the science of the time.

He speculates that intelligent aliens must have hands like our own due to their convenience and that they must also have human-like feet (unless they have developed the ability to fly.)

He also suggests that these beings are likely to pursue many of the same sports and interests that we do, such as astronomy, sailing and listening to music, but that they are also likely to be afflicted with poverty, war and other misfortune because it is what promotes invention and progress.

The book, which is to be sold at auction, is expected to fetch up to $4,000.

“It’s fascinating to think who turned these pages in 1698, what they must’ve felt when reading these descriptions of life on Jupiter or Saturn before gazing up at the night sky,” said Spencer.

Jim Spencer and the book

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