Article of the Week | BYU Studies

Article of the Week

Solar Eclipse
August 21, 2017
Article of the Week
Hevelius and the Meaning of History
De L. Jensen

This daily feature is the introduction to a full article by De L. Jensen that was published in issue 13:1. To read the full text of this essay, follow the link below.

This article tells the story of a remarkable scientist, born in an age of conflict between science and religion. However, throughout his life, Johanes Hevelius never lost interest in astronomy. It was his observation of the eclipse of the sun on 1 June 1639 that rekindled in him the desire to devote his life to it. He began in earnest, with the help of the newly developed telescope, to make numerous stellar observations. His first interest was the moon, and he prepared a series of drawing of the various phases of the moon over a period of a month, showing how the details on the moon's surface varied from day to day. He made his observations during the night and the following day engraved them onto copper plates for eventual publication. Not only did Hevelius map the moon but he also named many of its physical features, some of which are still used today.

BYU now has the collections containing some of his books and manuscripts.