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Scheiner, Christoph

1. Dates
Born: Wald, Swabia, 25 July 1573
Died: Neisse, Silesia, 18 June 1650
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 77
2. Father
Occupation: No Information
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Wald (near Mindelheim), Swabia, Germany
Career: Germany and Italy
Death: Neisse, Silesia
4. Education
Schooling: Ingolstadt, M.A., D.D.
Attended a Jesuit Latin school at Augsburg.
Attended a Jesuit college at Landsberg.
1600, after joining Jesuit order, he was sent to Ingolstadt, where he studied philosophy, especially mathematics under Johann Lanz. I assume B.A.
1605, returned from "magisterium," received his M.A., and began to study theology. As an ordained Jesuit professed of the fourth vow, he would have had a doctorate in theology.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
Catholic, joined the Jesuit order in 1595.
1617, ordained as a priest.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Astronomy
Subordinate: Optics
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life, Patronage
1603-5, spent his "magisterium" training as a teacher at Dillingen.
1610-16, professor of Hebrew and mathematics, University of Ingolstadt, which was a Jesuit institution.
1616, took up residence at Archduke Maximilian's (of Austria) court in Innsbruck. After Maximilian's death, Leoplold continued to favor Scheiner.
1620-1, sent to the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, but then recalled to Innsbruck. I don't think Freiburg was a Jesuit institution, but the Jesuits were well established in the city and undoubtedly had connections with the university. The information that Scheiner was "sent" and then "recalled" sounds as though he was functioning wholly within the Jesuit order.
1622, accompanied Archduke Charles, bishop of Neisse, to Neisse.
1623, appointed (by Archduke Charles) superior of the Jesuit college to be erected in Neisse.
1624-33, in Rome, occupied with administrative problems. He appears to have been on Hapsburg diplomatic business; it is apparently not true that he was on the faculty of the Collegio Romano.
1633-9, lived in Vienna. It is unknown what he was doing there, but unlikely that it was not involved with patronage.
1639-50, in Neisse involved in the Jesuit college that he had established there.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Merchant, Eccesiastic Official, Aristrocrat
1606, äuke Wilhelm V of Bavaria became interested in Scheiner's pantograph and invited him to Munich. There is no evidence that he went.
Scheiner sent his three letters on sunspots, 1612, to Welser, a noted maecenas and banker to the Jesuits. The publication of the letters mentioned this. Also his Accuratior disquisitio was addressed to Welser, and he named the fifth satellite of Jupiter (which he thought he had discovered) for Welser.
Sol ellipticus (1615) and Refractiones caelestes (1617) are dedicated to Maximilian, Archduke of Tirol, who inited Scheiner to his court in 1616. Maximilian died in 1618. Leopold, Bishop of Strasbourg, brother of Ferdinand II, the new Archduke, then entrusted Scheiner with the construction of a new Jesuit chapel in Innsbruck.
Another major patron was Archduke Charles, Bishop of Neisse, another brother of Ferdinand II, who took Scheiner with him to Neisse, but died on a trip to Spain in 1624.
Scheiner dedicated Rosa ursina to Paolo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, in whose shop it was printed.
Ferdinand II himself called Scheiner back to Vienna in 1633, from Rome.
Scheiner's Prodromus was published after his death by Ferdinand III, to whom in was dedicated.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Instruments
Between 1603 and 1605 he invented the pantograph, an instrument for copying plans on any scale.
He invented a machine helioscopique which allowed measurements, especially of sun spots.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Anton von Braunmuehl, "Christoph Scheiner als Mathematiker, Physiker, und Astronom," Bayerische Bibliotek (published by Karl von Reinharddstraettnes and Karl Trautmann), 24 (Bamberg, 1891). [Q143.S31 B8] Guenther, "Scheiner," Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, 30 (Leipzig, 1890), 718-20. [ref. CT1053.A4 v.30] Antonio Favaro, "Oppositori di Galileo, III. Christoforo Scheiner," Atti de R. Instituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arte, 78 (1919), 1-107.
  2. P. Joh. Schreiber, P. Christoph Scheiner S.J. und seine Sonnenbeobachtungen, Sonderabdruck aus Natur und Offenbarung, 48 (Münster, 1902).
  3. Robert McKeon, "Les débuts de l'astronomie de precision," Physis, 13 (1971), 225-88; 14 (1972), 221-42; especially 13, 231-3.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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