Christian Mayer (astronomer)

Christian Mayer ( born August 20, 1719 Mederitz, Moravia, † April 16, 1783 in Mannheim, Germany ) was a Jesuit, an experimental physicist, astronomer, surveyor, cartographer and meteorologist.


After studying theology in Mainz, he entered the Jesuit order. He then completed further studies and worked as a teacher of mathematics and ancient languages ​​in Aschaffenburg. In 1751, he was first appointed as a professor of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg, and in 1752 he moved to the first chair of experimental physics at the same university.

During a stay in Paris, for study of the water supply, he learned the local astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, Jérôme de Lalande Joseph, César François Cassini de Thury and Pierre Bouguer know and learned the use of astronomical and geodetic instruments. He watched the return of a comet (1759 ) with its equipment and the transit of Venus (1761 ) in Schwetzingen palace gardens as well as in the years 1765 and 1778 a partial solar eclipse.

In 1763, Mayer was nominated by Karl Theodor to the electoral court astronomer. 1769 Mayer was invited to observe the transit of Venus to Saint Petersburg. He initiated in 1771 the construction of the Mannheim Observatory, whose founding director he was. 1773 Mayer was appointed by the Mannheim Academy of Sciences as an associate member.

In 1774 he ordered the eight-foot mural quadrant at instrument maker John Bird in London, with the Kulminationshöhen of stars should be observed. 1775 Mayer observed a Saturn occultation and in 1776 the coverage of the star Aldebaran by the moon. In the years 1776 and 1777 Mayer and his colleague Johann Metzger discovered over one hundred double stars. Mayer realized that it is belong together stellar systems, stellar guard, is orbiting around a common center of gravity. This was one of the first and important findings of stellar astronomy.

The Public Observatory Schriesheim bears his name, some exhibits its observatories are in Technoseum, Mannheim, issued.

Christian Mayer published inter alia on the observed transit of Venus on June 3, 1769 (May 23, according to the regulation in Russia Julian calendar ) in St. Petersburg: " Expositio de transitu Veneris " (St. Petersburg, 1769), " Pantometrum Pacechianum, seu instrumentum novum per elicienda ex una statione distantia loci inaccessi " (Mannheim, 1762); " Nouvelle méthode pour lever en peu de temps et à peu de frais une carte générale et de toute la Russie exacte " (St. Petersburg, 1770); " Observations de la Comete de 1781 " in the "Acts Acad. Petro Polit. " ( 1782 ). "Basic Palatina " (Mannheim, 1763) and the "Charter Palatina " (1773 ), in which he published his geodetic surveying the Palatinate.

Other publications: " Tables d' aberration et de mutation" (Mannheim, 1778), " A thorough defense of new observations from satellites, which fixed star to Mannheim on the Electoral. Observatory have been entdecket ", Mannheim, 1778, De novis in coelo sidereo phaenomenis in miris Stellarum fixarum comitibus Mannhemii, Mannheim, 1779

The lunar crater C. Mayer is named after him.



  • Exposure Transitv De Veneris Ante Discvm Solis D. 23 Maii 1769 ( digitized )
  • De novis in coelo sidereo phaenomenis in miris Stellarum fixarum comitibus Mannhemii, 1779 ( Digitasliat )