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Nature volume 50, pages 230231 | Download Citation



THE FIRST OBSERVATION OF SUN-SPOTS.—A contribution to the history of the rival claims of the various alleged discoverers of sun-spots appears in the Rendiconti dei Lincei, from the pen of Prof E. Millesovich. It is a criticism of Dr. Berthold's pamphlet on “Master Joann Fabricius and the Sun-spots,” setting forth the claims of the son of the Frisian astrologer David Fabricius to the name of the true discoverer of the solar phenomenon in question. The other claimants are, of course, Galileo and the Jesuit Scheiner, known under the name of Apelles. The claims of Fabricius are based upon his book De Maculis in Soleobservatis, narratio, &c., published at Wittenberg in 1611. He had been studying at Leyden University, whence he brought home Lippershey's newly-invented telescope to his father at Osteel. The latter was already well known among astronomers as the discoverer of the variability of Mira Ceti. The method of projecting the solar image on a screen is set forth in detail in the work referred to, as well as the correct conclusion that the sun rotates about an axis. Prof. Millesovich grants that the name of fabricius was probably known to the Jesuits and suppressed as that of a heretic, but he comes to the conclusion that Galileo was actually the first discoverer, having observed the spots as early as the summer of 1610, whereas Fabricius saw them independently on March 9, 1611, and Scheiner about the same time, without, however, paying much attention to them before the publication of Fabricius's Narratio. He then observed them assiduously, and collected a large number of valuable records.

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