Maximilianus Hell (1720-1792) and the eighteenth-century transits of Venus : a study of jesuit science in Nordic and Central European contexts
ForfatterAspaas, Per Pippin
In the years 1761 and 1769, the planet Venus passed in front of the Sun as seen from Earth. In that century of Enlightenment, these events – known as transits of Venus – attracted massive interest from the entire world of learning. The monograph "Maximilianus Hell (1720-1792) and the Eighteenth-Century Transits of Venus. A Study of Jesuit Science in Nordic and Central-European Contexts" is a source-based, historical case study that aims to explore and contextualise Venus transit activities in the Nordic countries and Central Europe. It traces the scientific career of an individual, Maximilianus Hell, and analyses the conditions for astronomical research in areas presently known as Slovakia, Austria, Romania, Hungary, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. It presents numerous primary sources and also has a separate part with editions of Latin texts. This is the first full-scale, contextualised study of the Jesuit Father Maximilianus Hell in the English language. New sources, not only on Father Hell, but also on the institutional history of astronomy in Central and Nordic regions of Europe are presented. The thesis is also pioneering in the sense that it covers areas that have until now been neglected or at least ill-understood in the Anglo- and Francophone historiography on the eighteenth-century transits of Venus. By ‘breaking down national barriers’ and employing a comparative perspective, it offers new insight into the different conditions for astronomical research in each country or region covered. Examination of archival sources and literature in various languages – primarily in Latin, Swedish, Danish, Russian, French and German – has been vital here. Hopefully, this study may prove helpful to the formation of a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the Venus transit projects of the eighteenth century, seen as an international enterprise.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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