This site has been archived for historical purposes. These pages are no longer being updated.

Christopher Scheiner, S.J.
(1575-1650)
sunspots and his equatorial mount



Christopher Scheiner, S.J. was born in Wald, germany and died in Neiss. He was a brilliant geometer, physicist and astronomer. He published many scientific works. During his long controversy with Kepler, he adopted the pseudonym "Appelles," the mythological figure who could draw the finest line. He engaged Galileo in controversy, and many of his publications deal with aspects of their discussions on the systems of the universe. He discovered sunspots independently of Galileo and explained the elliptical form of the sun near the horizon as the effect of refraction. In his Oculus (1619) he showed that the retina is the seat of vision.

Frontispiece of Scheiner's 1619 OculusFrontispiece of Scheiner's 1630 Rosa


He discussed the theory behind sundials (gnomonics) and their construction. In his major work, Rosa ursina sive sol (1630), he confirmed his findings and method and gave his measurement of the inclination of the axis of rotation of the sunspots to the plane of the ecliptic which is only off a few minutes from the true value.

Scheiner trained young mathematicians and organized public debates on current events in astronomy, such as the heliocentric vs. the geocentric theories of the universe. In his major work, Rosa Ursina sive sol (1630), he confirmed his findings and method and gave his measurement of the inclination of the axis of rotation of the sunspots to the plane of the ecliptic which is off only a few minutes from the true value. Scheiner explained the elliptical shape of the sun near the horizon as the effect of refraction, a phenomenon discovered by another Jesuit named Grimaldi. He gave one of his telescopes to the archduke of Tyrol who was more interested in the scenery than in stars and complained that the image was inverted. Scheiner inserted another lens to invert the image again and so created one of the first terrestrial telescopes.

Scheiner's pantograph

The pantograph was invented about 1603 by the German astronomer Christolpher Scheiner for mechanically copying a figure on an enlarged or reduced scale. The instrument is made in a variety of forms: one form is pictured in here where the four equal rods are hinged by adjustable pivots at A, B, C, P with OA = AP and PC = P'C = AB.
This instrument consists of parallel and intersecting rods hinged at appropriate ratio points and is found in one of the Rubens paintings. The instrument lies flat on the drawing paper and is fastened to the paper by a pointed pivot at O. Then if pencils are inserted at P and P', and P is made to trace a figure F, P' will trace the figure F' obtained from F by a similar mapping. Note that APCB is a parallelogram and that O, P. P' are collinear, and OP'/OP = OB/OA = Constant.

The equatorial mount which was perfected by the Jesuit Christopher Grienberger was described by Scheiner in his Rosa Ursina sive Sol (Bracciano, 1630), although he had used it as early as 1620. In 1613 Scheiner in turn contributed to the perfection of the refracting telescope with which we are familiar today. He constructed a number of different kinds of telescopes, and in particular (perhaps at the suggestion of Kepler) he made one with two convex lenses instead of Galileo's scheme which included one concave and the other convex. This improved sightings greatly. Scheiner gave one of his telescopes to the archduke of Tyrol who was more interested in the scenery from his Innsbruck castle than he was in the stars. When he complained that the image was upside down, Scheiner inserted another lens to invert the image and so created one of the first terrestrial telescopes.

Christopher Scheiner in the training of young mathematicians organized public debates, "disputationes" (many of which were later published), in order to emphasize the geometrical concepts taught. Topics included the heliocentric vs. the geocentric theories of the universe. One of Scheiner's pupil, another Jesuit geometer and astronomer, Johann Cysatus was the first to make a telescopic study of a comet in 1618 and gave the first description of the nucleus and coma of a comet.

References


Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu ( AHSI ) Rome: Institutum Historicum
Bangert, William A History of the Society of Jesus. St. Louis: St. Louis Institute, 1972uis, 1810
Boyer, Carl A history of mathematics. New York: Wiley, 1968
Gillispie, Charles. C. ed., Dictionary of Scientific biography. 16 vols. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1970
{ Reference to Scheiner in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography is found in v 2 p526, v 3 p528, v 5 p242, 278, 515, v 6 p361, v 7 p193, 375, v 12 p151-152, v 14 p45. Daniel O'Connell: "Jesuit Men of Science" in Studies in Irish Literature and Science vol 44, 1955, p. 313.
Oldenburg, Henry ed. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. vols. 1-30. London: 1665-1715
Reilly, Conor "A catalogue of Jesuitica in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London" in A.H.S.I. vol. 27,1958, p. 339-362
Sarton, GeorgeThe study of the history of mathematics. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard, 1936
Sommervogel, Carolus Bibliothèque de la compagnie de Jésus. 12 volumes. Bruxelles: Soci&eacutet&eacute Belge de Libraire, 1890-1960
{12 entries are found in Sommervogel; some examples are the following:
Disquisitiones mathematicae de Controversis de Novitatibus astronomicis(Ingolsitadt,1614
Rosa Ursina (Bracciani, 1626-1630)









Adventures of Some Early Jesuit Scientists

José de Acosta, S.J. - 1600: Pioneer of the Geophysical Sciences
François De Aguilon, S.J. - 1617: and his Six books on Optics
Roger Joseph Boscovich, S.J. - 1787: and his atomic theory
Christopher Clavius, S.J. - 1612: and his Gregorian Calendar
Honoré Fabri, S.J. - 1688: and his post-calculus geometry
Francesco M. Grimaldi, S.J. - 1663: and his diffraction of light
Paul Guldin, S.J. - 1643: applications of Guldin's Rule
Maximilian Hell, S.J. - 1792: and his Mesmerizing encounters
Athanasius Kircher, S.J. - 1680: The Master of a Hundred Arts
Francesco Lana-Terzi, S.J. - 1687: The Father of Aeronautics
Francis Line, S.J. - 1654: the hunted and elusive clock maker
Juan Molina, S.J. - 1829: The First Scientist of Chile
Jerôme Nadal, S.J. -1580: perspective art and composition of place
Ignace Pardies, S.J. - 1673: and his influence on Newton
Andrea Pozzo, S.J. - 1709: and his perspective geometry
Vincent Riccati, S.J. - 1775: and his hyperbolic functions
Matteo Ricci, S.J. - 1610: who brought scientific innovations to China
John Baptist Riccioli, S.J. - 167I: and his long-lived selenograph
Girolamo Saccheri, S.J. - 1733: and his solution to Euclid's blemish
Theorems of Saccheri, S.J. - 1733: and his non Euclidean Geometry
Christopher Scheiner, S.J. - 1650: sunspots and his equatorial mount
Gaspar Schott, S.J. - 1666: and the experiment at Magdeburg
Angelo Secchi, S.J. - 1878: the Father of Astrophysics
Joseph Stepling, S.J. - 1650: symbolic logic and his research academy
André Tacquet, S.J. - 1660: and his treatment of infinitesimals
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S. J. - 1955: and The Phenomenon of man
Ferdinand Verbiest, S.J. - 1688: an influential Jesuit scientist in China
Juan Bautista Villalpando, S.J. - 1608: and his version of Solomon's Temple
Gregory Saint Vincent, S.J. - 1667: and his polar coordinates
Nicolas Zucchi, S.J. - 1670: the renowned telescope maker

Influence of Some Early Jesuit Scientists

The 35 lunar craters named to honor Jesuit Scientists: their location and description
Post-Pombal Portugal opinion of Pre-Pombal Jesuit Scientists: a recent conference
Seismology, The Jesuit Science. a Jesuit history of geophysics

Another menu of Jesuit Interest

Jesuit history, tradition and spirituality

Visit the Jesuit Resource Page for even more links to things Jesuit.





Contact Information and Table of Contents for This Site
Mathematics Department
Fairfield University
Fairfield, CT 06430
email: macdonnell@fair1.fairfield.edu
Voice mail - 203 256-7222
FAX 203-255-5947


These 13 polyhedra symbolize the 13 items of this page
which is maintained by Joseph MacDonnell, S.J.
They are the 13 Achimedean semiregular polyhedra.

To F.U.