|Died||28 January 1687 (aged 76),|
Danzig (Gdańsk) Pomeranian Voivodeship, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
|Alma mater||Leiden University|
|Known for||Lunar topography|
|Fields||jurisprudence, astronomy, brewing|
Johannes Hevelius[note 1][note 2] (in German also known as Hevel; Polish: Jan Heweliusz; 28 January 1611 – 28 January 1687) was a councillor and mayor of Danzig (Gdańsk), Kingdom of Poland. As an astronomer, he gained a reputation as "the founder of lunar topography", and described ten new constellations, seven of which are still used by astronomers.
According to the Polish Academy of Sciences (1975) the origin of the name goes back to the surname Hawke, a historical alternative spelling for the English word hawk, which changed into Hawelke or Hawelecke. In Poland he is known as Jan Heweliusz, According to Patrick Moore Hevelius is a Latinised version of the name Hewelcke other versions of the name include Hewel, Hevel, Hevelke or Hoefel, Höwelcke, Höfelcke. According to Feliks Bentkowski (1814), during his early years he also signed as Hoefelius. Along with the Latinized version of his name, Ludwig Günther-Fürstenwalde (1903) also reports Hevelius' signature as Johannes Höffelius Dantiscanus in 1631 and Hans Höwelcke in 1639.
Hevelius' father was Abraham Hewelke (1576–1649), his mother Kordula Hecker (1576–1655). They were German-speaking Lutherans, wealthy brewing merchants of Bohemian origin. As a young boy, Hevelius was sent to Gądecz (Gondecz) where he studied the Polish language.
Hevelius brewed the famous Jopen beer, which also gave its name to the "Jopengasse"/"Jopejska" Street, after 1945 renamed as Piwna Street (Beer Street), where St. Mary's Church is located.
After gymnasium (secondary school), where he was taught by Peter Crüger, Hevelius in 1630 studied jurisprudence at Leiden, then travelled in England and France, meeting Pierre Gassendi, Marin Mersenne and Athanasius Kircher. In 1634 he settled in his native town, and on 21 March 1635 married Katharine Rebeschke, a neighbour two years younger who owned two adjacent houses. The following year, Hevelius became a member of the beer-brewing guild, which he led from 1643 onwards.
Throughout his life, Hevelius took a leading part in municipal administration, becoming town councillor in 1651; but from 1639 on, his chief interest was astronomy. In 1641 he built an observatory on the roofs of his three connected houses, equipping it with splendid instruments, ultimately including a large Keplerian telescope of 46 m (150 ft) focal length, with a wood and wire tube he constructed himself. This may have been the longest "tubed" telescope before the advent of the tubeless aerial telescope.
The observatory was known by the name Sternenburg (Latin: Stellaeburgum; Polish: Gwiezdny Zamek) or "Star Castle". This private observatory was visited by Polish Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga on 29 January 1660. As a subject of the Polish kings, Hevelius enjoyed the patronage of four consecutive kings of Poland, and his family was raised to the position of nobility by the King of Poland Jan Kazimierz in 1660, who previously visited his observatory in 1659. While the noble status was not ratified by the Polish Sejm Hevelius's coat of arms includes the distinctive Polish royal crown. The Polish King John III Sobieski who regularly visited Hevelius numerous times in years 1677–1683 released him from paying taxes connected to brewing and allowed his beer to be sold freely outside the city limits. In May 1679 the young Englishman Edmond Halley visited him as emissary of the Royal Society, whose fellow Hevelius had been since 1664. The Royal Society considers him one of the first German fellows. Małgorzata Czerniakowska (2005) writes that "Jan Heweliusz was the first Pole to be inducted into the Royal Society in London. This important event took place on 19th March 1664". Hevelius considered himself as being citizen of the Polish world (civis Orbis Poloniae) and stated in a letter dated from 9 January 1681 that he was Civis orbis Poloni, qui in honorem patriae suae rei Literariae bono tot labores molestiasque, absit gloria, cum maximo facultatum suarum dispendio perduravit-"citizen of Polish world who, for glory of his country and for the good of science, worked so much, and while not boasting much, executed his work with most effort per his abilities"
Halley had been instructed by Robert Hooke and John Flamsteed to persuade Hevelius to use telescopes for his measurements, yet Hevelius demonstrated that he could do well with only quadrant and alidade. He is thus considered the last astronomer to do major work without the use of a telescope.
Hevelius made observations of sunspots, 1642–1645, devoted four years to charting the lunar surface, discovered the Moon's libration in longitude, and published his results in Selenographia, sive Lunae descriptio (1647), a work which entitles him to be called "the founder of lunar topography".
Katharine, his first wife, died in 1662, and a year later Hevelius married Elisabeth Koopmann, the young daughter of a merchant family. The couple had four children. Elisabeth supported him, published two of his works after his death, and is considered the first female astronomer.
His observatory, instruments and books were destroyed by fire on 26 September 1679. The catastrophe is described in the preface to his Annus climactericus (1685). He promptly repaired the damage enough to enable him to observe the great comet of December 1680. He named the constellation Sextans in memory of this lost instrument.
In late 1683, in commemoration of the victory of Christian forces led by Polish King John III Sobieski at the Battle of Vienna, he invented and named the constellation Scutum Sobiescianum (Sobieski's Shield), now called Scutum. This constellation first occurred publicly in his star atlas Firmamentum Sobiescianum, that was printed in his own house at lavish expense, and he himself engraved many of the printing plates.
His health had suffered from the shock of the 1679 fire and he died on his 76th birthday, 28 January 1687. Hevelius was buried in St. Catherine's Church in his hometown.
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