The Ansbach court mathematicus, Simon Marius (1573-1624) acquired a telescope in 1609 and began to make astronomical observations. These proved to be very fruitful and he discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter just one day later than Galileo Galilei. Unlike his Tuscan rival, Marius did not rush into print, the world first becoming aware of his discoveries when he published his magnum opus, Mundus Iovialis, in 1614*. This of course led to Galileo accusing Marius of plagiarism vitriolically in his Il Saggiatore in 1623. Being by now the most famous astronomer in Europe, Galileo’s charge stuck ruining Marius’ reputation down to the present day, although he was shown to be innocent at the beginning of the twentieth century.
2014 brings the four hundredth anniversary of the publication of Mundus Iovialis. To celebrate this anniversary the Nürnberger Astronomische Gesellschaft e.V. (NAG) with the active support of the municipal authorities of Gunzenhausen (his place of birth), Ansbach and Nürnberg as well as the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg, the University of Hamburg, the Hochschule Ansbach, the Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm and the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science Berlin together with a whole raft full of sponsors and active and passive partners is presenting a wide range of activities throughout the whole year.
Today, 18th February, is the four hundredth anniversary of the signing of the dedication in the Mundus Iovialis to celebrate which the Simon Marius Internet Portal is being officially launched.
This internet presence is intended to be a guide through the anniversary year of 2014 and will bring together electronically retrievable sources, secondary literature, lectures and news on Simon Marius and – whenever possible – provide convenient links. We the initiators invite you the public to make use of this multilingual portal and also to make your own contributions.
The high point of the year will be a one day conference on the life and work of Simon Marius, Simon Marius und seine Zeit, which will be held in the Nicolaus-Copernicus-Planetarium in Nürnberg on Saturday, 20th September 2014. The proceedings of this conference will be published in book form, hopefully in 2015.
* He had already published his discovery of the moons of Jupiter in his Prognosticon Astrologicum auf das Jahr 1612, however this was almost certainly only distributed locally in Southern Germany and Galileo and the rest of the astronomical community of the period were not aware of its existence.