Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Astronomy

formerly Baltic Astronomy

Editor-in-Chief: Barbuy, Beatriz

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.350

CiteScore 2018: 0.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.202
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.144

ICV 2017: 121.03

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 20, Issue 2


Anders Celsius’ Contributions to Meridian Arc Measurements and the Establishment of an Astronomical Observatory in Uppsala

H. C. Stempels
Published Online: 2017-03-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/astro-2017-0281


Astronomy has been on the curriculum of Uppsala University from at least the middle of the 15th century. However, since Uppsala also was the ecclesiastical centre of Sweden, the acceptance of new ideas, such as the Copernican heliocentric system, was slow. At the same time, more peripheral universities in the Swedish empire, including Dorpat/Tartu, enjoyed a larger freedom. It was not until the early 18th century that a ‘modern’ astronomy emerged in Uppsala. This effort was to a large extent led by Anders Celsius (1701-1744), who was able to establish good international contacts with astronomers in continental Europe. Celsius participated in De Maupertuis’ expedition to the far north of Sweden, in order to measure the meridian arc and determine the shape of the Earth. This paper explores how Celsius became involved in De Maupertuis’ expedition, and how this effort paved the way to the establishment of a fully equipped astronomical observatory, including an extensive collection of books and instruments, most of which survives up to this day.

Keywords: history of astronomy


  • Annerstedt C. 1894, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia intill˚ar 1702, Almquist, StockholmGoogle Scholar

  • Dahlin E. M. 1875, Bidrag till de matematiska vetenskapens historia i Sverige f¨ore 1679, Upsala Universitets ˚Arsskrift 1875, Esaias Edquist, UppsalaGoogle Scholar

  • von Höpken Baron A. J. 1745, ˚Aminnelse-tal ¨ofver astronomia professoren [..] Herr Anders Celsius, Salvius, StockholmGoogle Scholar

  • de Maupertuis P. 1738, La Figure de la Terre, ParisGoogle Scholar

  • Nordenmark N. V. E. 1931, Anders Spole, Vetenskapsakademins ˚arsbok, vol. 29, p. 401-504, Almqvist & Wiksell, StockholmGoogle Scholar

  • Nordenmark N. V. E. 1936, Anders Celsius, Lychnos, Almquist & Wiksell, UppsalaGoogle Scholar

  • Nordenmark N. V. E. 1959, Astronomins historia i Sverige intill˚ar 1800, Lychnos, Almquist & Wiksell, UppsalaGoogle Scholar

  • Outhier R. 1744, Journal d’un Voyage au Nord, ParisGoogle Scholar

  • Sandblad H. 1973, in The Reception of Copernicus’ Heliocentric Theory, Ed. J. Dobrzycki, p. 241-270, Reidel, DordrechtGoogle Scholar

  • Tobé E. 1986, Fransysk visit i Tornedalen, Tornedalica 42, Lule˚aGoogle Scholar

  • Todhunter I. 1873, A History of the Mathematical Theories of Attraction and the Figure of the Earth [..], p. 93-102, Macmillan and Co., LondonGoogle Scholar

  • von Zach Baron F. X. 1806, Andreas Celsius, Monatliche Correspondenz zur Bef ¨orderung der Erd- und Himmelskunde, vol. 13, p. 92-122Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2011-06-22

Accepted: 2011-08-10

Published Online: 2017-03-23

Published in Print: 2011-06-01

Citation Information: Open Astronomy, Volume 20, Issue 2, Pages 179–185, ISSN (Online) 2543-6376, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/astro-2017-0281.

Export Citation

© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in