Hevelius, Johannes

Hevelius, Johannes

(yōhän`əs hāvā`lēo͝os), 1611–87, Polish astronomer, b. Danzig. From a finely equipped observatory in his house at Danzig, assisted by his wife Elizabeth, he made valuable observations of the moon's surface, discovered four comets, and collected data for his catalog of 1,564 stars. He recorded his pioneer study of lunar topography in Selenographia (1647), noted for excellent lunar maps. Many of the names given by him to the lunar mountains, craters, and other features are still used. He was one of the first to observe (1661) a transit of Mercury. He improved astronomical instruments but resisted the introduction of telescopic sights. His surname appears in various spellings, among them Hevel, Hewel, Hewelcke, and Höwelcke.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hevelius, Johannes


(also Hewel or Höwelcke). Born Jan. 28, 1611, in Gdańsk; died there Jan. 28, 1687. Polish astronomer-observer and founder of selenography.

Hevelius built an observatory in Gdansk. He published the first accurate, detailed, and artistically executed maps of the moon (in Selenography or the Description of the Moon [1647], he named many features of the moon’s surface). He also discovered the moon’s optical libration (1647), the phases of Mercury, and four comets and made the first accurate measurement of the sun’s period of rotation. Hevelius constructed sextants, quadrants without optics (for accurate measurements), and refractors (up to 70 m, “aerial tubes” for observations). He compiled (1687) a catalog of 1,564 stars that was more accurate than that of Tycho Brahe and delineated 11 new constellations. In The Celestial Machine (1673) he described his observatory.


Atlas zvezdnogo neba. Edited by V. P. Shcheglov. Tashkent, 1968.


Seleshnikov, S. I. Astronomiia i kosmonavtika. Kiev, 1967.
Eremeeva, A. I. Vydaiushchiesia astronomy mira. Moscow, 1966. Pages 110-14.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.