Article

Simon Marius's Mundus Iovialis: 400th Anniversary in Galileo's Shadow

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Abstract

Simon Marius, Court Astronomer in Ansbach in Germany, independently discovered the moons of Jupiter one day after Galileo’s widely accepted discovery on 7 January 1610. Because Marius was using the Julian calendar (so-called O.S., Old Style), his discovery was made in 1609, though adding the 10 days of difference to transform, to the Gregorian calendar (so-called N.S., New Style) that Galileo was using, his notes of his discovery give 8 January 1610 (N.S.). Further, though Galileo famously published his Sidereus Nuncius in March 1610, Marius did not publish his discovery of four moons circling Jupiter until 1611, in a locally circulated almanac. He then published this work in a major book, Mundus Iovialis, though not until 1614. Galileo, who was forceful in asserting his priority, accused Marius of plagiarism in Il Saggiatore (1623), and Marius’s reputation was ruined for hundreds of years. Only in the early 1900s did a jury in the Netherlands assess the discovery claims and vindicate Marius, though Marius deserves more credit and recognition with the general public than he currently has. Still, the current names we use for the four major moons of Jupiter—Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto—come from Marius’s book, of which approximately 30 copies from 1610 survive. Marius’s 1614 frontispiece, and his earlier almanac, show the four satellites in orbits, in contrast to Galileo’s use of asterisks and the letter O, so arguably Marius provided the first images of the orbits of what we call the Galilean satellites and what Galileo himself called first the Cosmean stars (Cosmica Sidera) and finally, in print, the Medicean stars (Medicea Sidera).

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In 1614, the German astronomer Simon Mayr published his claim to have discovered the satellites of Jupiter. Writing in the treatise Mundus Jovialis, Mayr made his assertion in a convoluted but unequivocal manner, earning the displeasure of Galileo Galilei, who published his harsh protest in 1623 in Il Saggiatore. Though objections of Galileo were fallacious in some respects, and though numerous scholars took to the field to prove claim of Mayr, none ever really succeeded, and the historical evidence remains to detriment of Mayr. On the basis of such historical evidence, including comparisons between Mundus Jovialis and earlier works of Mayr, independent discovery of the satellites by Mayr can be ruled out. Indeed, it is very likely that he never observed them before 30 December 1610, nearly a year after Galileo. The absence of a corpus of observations by Mayr and the inaccuracy of his tables are also puzzling.
Chapter
Though the details of who was first to see the four major satellites of Jupiter are obscured by the mists of time, it seems that Simon Mayr (Marius) nearly simultaneously and independently discovered them and noted the discovery only 1 day after Galileo similarly discovered and noted it. The twin discoveries were confused by the use of different calendars by Marius and by Galileo, the former using the Julian calendar then still in use in Protestant regions and the latter using the new Gregorian calendar that was adopted in Catholic regions. Galileo was particularly sensitive to his priority, and the use of 1609 by Marius in the title of his Mundus Iovialis of 1614 raised particular ire, though adding the required 10 days for the conversion from O.S. to N.S. brought Marius’s discovery into early 1610. In the long run, we now use the names that Marius gave—Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto—to what are called the Galilean satellites.
Chapter
This chapter analyzes the mathematical astronomy in the printed annual Schreibkalender and prognostications authored by Simon Marius for the years 1601–1629. It considers how Marius determined the times of the new and full moons, eclipses, and Sun’s entry into the four cardinal points of the year and finds frequent discrepancies between his actual procedures (copying from published sources) and his descriptions of those procedures (independent computation). This chapter suggests that the highly competitive world of calendar production, especially in Nuremberg, may have prompted Marius to deploy combative rhetoric against other calendar makers and to exaggerate his own originality. And the chapter briefly examines Marius’s description, in his calendars, of his relationships with two contemporary astronomers, David Fabricius and Kepler. The goal of this chapter is to explore how Marius represented himself in the world of print calendars.
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