It was published in 1686 and translated into English by Aphra Behn. Over the course of 5 nights an astronomer teaches a young noblewoman about the planets that can be seen in the night sky. Although, of course, the science is now superseded, it nevertheless provides fascinating insights into scientific, political and gender perceptions of the 17th century.
Although over three hundred years old, Fontenelle's dialogues in a garden over five nights are still a surprisingly painless way to learn about the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars, even though new planets were later discovered and modern science has filled out many details Fontenelle could not have known. This is no lecture, but a conversation with the cut and thrust of intelligent argument as the Marchioness challenges each of the astronomer's assertions and requires him to explain the evidence. The five successive nights deal with: The Earth The Moon Other Planets The Stars Latest Discoveries Aphra Behn's translation, one of the earliest, adds the feminine wit of a leading dramatist to Fontanelle's work.