Born in 1701, Anders Celsius was a Swedish astronomer, mathematician, and physicist. He is known for his many notable observatories in France, Italy, and Germany. He is also the founder of the Uppsala Astronomical Observatory and proposed the Centigrade temperature scale in 1742. The observations and contributions of Anders Celsius continue to be relevant today and perhaps that is primarily what makes him one of the best of his era.
Early Life and Education
When it comes to knowing about Anders Celsius, history recalls that he was born in Uppsala, Sweden. His family traced back its roots to Ovanaker in the province of Halsingland. At the time, the estate of the family was at Doma. Anders was the son of an astronomy professor, Nils Celsius, and nephew of botanist Olof Celsius.
In addition to that, he was the grandson of mathematician Magnus Celsius and astronomer Anders Spole. From an early age, Anders was a talented mathematician. Therefore, he chose science as his career. Anders studied at the University of Uppsala where his father was a teacher as well. In 1730, he also became a professor there.
Amongst anders Celsius major accomplishments was the publishing of “New Method for Determining the Distance from the Earth to the Sun”. He along with his assistant Olof Hiroter studied the auroral phenomenon and was also the first to propose the connection between the aurora borealis and the changing magnetic field of the earth.
He observed the compass needle variations and suggested that the large deflections correlated with stronger auroral activity. In 1733, he published a collection of 316 observations made by himself of the aurora borealis along with others.
In the early 1730s, Celsius frequently traveled to Italy, Germany, and France while visiting the most major European observatories. The year 1736, saw him participating in an expedition organized by the French Academy of Sciences and led by French mathematician Pierre Louis Maupertuis to measure the degree of latitude.
The expedition aimed to measure the length of a degree along a meridian, close to the pole, and then compare the results with the expeditions to Peru, near the equator. The expeditions proved Isaac Newton’s belief that the earth was an ellipsoid flattened at the poles.
The year 1738 saw him publishing “Observations on Determining the Shape of the Earth”. Celisus’s participation in the Lapland expedition earned him great respect and recognition from the government and his colleagues.
Furthermore, it also persuaded the Swedish authorities to gather the funds required to construct a new laboratory in Uppsala. He was successful and founded the Uppsala Astronomical Observatory in 1741. The observatory was equipped with the most modern equipment collected during his expeditions abroad.
Using his own photometric system, Celsius made observations of eclipses and various astronomical objects while publishing the carefully determined magnitudes for some 300 stars. He proposed Celsius temperature to the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala. His thermometer was calibrated with a 0 value for boiling water point and 100 for the freezing point.
Following the death of Celsius in 1745, Carl Linnaeus reversed the scale to allow more practical measurement. The anders Celsius thermometer is still used today and not many significant changes have been done over the years. Apart from the fact that thermometers have gone electronic now.
Apart from founding the Uppsala laboratory and inventing the Celsius scale, Anders conducted many geographical measurements for the Swedish General map as well. He was one of the few to note that much of Scandinavia is slowly rising above sea level.
However, he was wrong to propose that the water was evaporating. He passed away in 1744 due to tuberculosis but left a legacy that will remain alive for centuries to come.