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Christoph Scheiner


Christoph Scheiner was born in Wald in 1573 and entered the Jesuit Order in 1565. In 1601 he moved to Germany to study philosophy at Ingolstadt, where in 1610 he was made a professor of mathematics and of the Hebrew language.

In his Tres epistolae de maculis solaribus addressed to Mark Welser (1558-1614), Scheiner revealed toward the end of 1611 that he had observed spots in the proximity of the sun. The same phenomenon had been observed by Galileo about a year earlier, but he had preferred not to deal publicly with a matter he had not had the opportunity to investigate fully. Scheiner's declaration provoked him to write Welser letters of a similar vein that subsequently became his Istoria e dimostrazioni intorno alle macchie solari [History and Demonstrations concerning Sunspots] (Rome, 1613), published by the Lyncean Academy in 1613. Galileo did not fail to respond to Scheiner's affirmations both in Mario Guiducci's (1584-1646) Discorso delle comete [Discourse on Comets] (Florence, 1619) and in the Saggiatore [The Assayer] (Rome, 1623). The two scientists remained on formally cordial terms until 1630 when Scheiner, who had moved to Italy, published at Bracciano his Rosa Ursina (Bracciano, 1630), a ponderous summation of his research, in which he harshly attacked Galileo and attributed to himself full credit for the discovery. Scheiner's resentment of Galileo is considered by many historians as one of the factors that, among others, made Galileo fall from favor among the Jesuits and an influential part of the Roman Curia.