Eduard Heis, astronomer for God’s glory

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imagesEduard Heis (18 Feb 1806–30 June 1877), a mathematician and astronomer, was the first to record a count of the Perseid meteor shower in 1839, which has been recorded yearly ever since. Heis published a significant number of astronomical treatises, including “De Magnitudine” (1852), and “Sternschnuppen-Beobachtungen” (1875), among others. The most important one is “Atlas Coelestis Novus” (1872, dedicated to Pope Pius IX): here, Heis described 5.421 stars visible to the naked eye and classified according to their light intensity, seen in Central Europe and caredfully catalogued.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia (1910): “Shortly before his death he prepared the design of the Scriptural and symbolical constellations (Orion, Ursa, Pieces, Virgo, Crux) for the ceiling of the choir in the cathedral of Münster. Heis was an excellent teacher, a fatherly friend to his students, charitable to his neighbour, especially the poor, and an exemplary husband and father. During the I Vatican Council and the Kulturkampf he stood faithfully by the Church. In 1869 as rector he offered the jubilee congratulations of the Academy of Münster to Pius IX, and in 1872 he received from the same pontiff a precious medal with a Latin Brief for the ‘Atlas Coelestis’ which he had dedicated to the pope through Father Secchi. Heis died of apoplexy, three months before his golden jubilee as teacher. He had his own tombstone prepared in the proportions of the ‘golden section,’ with the symbol of the dove and olive-branch from the catacombs.” [1]

[1] Hagen, John. “Eduard Heis.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. accessed: 30 Jun. 2015

 

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