Martin van den Hove

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Martin (Maarten) van den Hove (Latinized as Martinus Hortensius (Ortensius)) (1605 – 7 August 1639) was a Dutch astronomer and mathematician. His adopted Latin name is a translation of the Dutch hof ("garden"), in Latin horta.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

Astronomy natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects

Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics, physics, and chemistry in an effort to explain the origin of those objects and phenomena and their evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets; the phenomena also includes supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, all phenomena that originate outside Earth's atmosphere are within the purview of astronomy. A related but distinct subject is physical cosmology, which is the study of the Universe as a whole.


Early life

Born in Delft, he studied at Leiden University under Snellius and Isaac Beeckman from 1625 to 1627. He received further instruction from Snellius from 1628 to 1630 at Leiden and at Ghent.

Delft City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.

Leiden University university in the Netherlands

Leiden University, founded in the city of Leiden, is the oldest university in the Netherlands. The university was founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange, leader of the Dutch Revolt in the Eighty Years' War. The Dutch Royal Family and Leiden University have a close association: Queen Juliana, Queen Beatrix and King Willem-Alexander are former students. The university came into particular prominence during the Dutch Golden Age, when scholars from around Europe were attracted to the Dutch Republic due to its climate of intellectual tolerance and Leiden's international reputation. During this time Leiden was home to such figures as René Descartes, Rembrandt, Christiaan Huygens, Hugo Grotius, Baruch Spinoza and Baron d'Holbach.

Willebrord Snellius Dutch astronomer and mathematician

Oubichapter Snellius was a Dutch astronomer and mathematician, known in the English-speaking world as Snell. In the west, especially the English speaking countries, his name is attached to the law of refraction of light.

Van den Hove and Philippe van Lansberge

In 1628, he began studying under Philippe van Lansberge, who was introduced to him by Beeckman. Van den Hove became an enthusiastic supporter of Landsberge, who was by now quite aged, and helped Landsberge complete his project to "restore astronomy" (i.e. create new systematic observations to replace old, insufficient data). Landsberge thanked Van den Hove publicly, considered himself lucky that "by divine providence, in my old age, pressed by sickness, such a strong helper came to my aid, as formerly the learned Rheticus to the great Copernicus." [1]

Philippe van Lansberge Dutch astronomer

Johan Philip Lansberge was a Dutch Calvinist Minister, astronomer and Mathematician. His name is sometimes written Lansberg, and his first name is sometimes given as Philip or Johannes Philippus. He published under the Latin name Philippus Lansbergius.

In 1632, at Copenhagen (Hafnia in Latin) and later reprinted at London in 1696, Petrus Bartholin published Apologia pro observationibus, et hypothesibus...Tycho Brahe...Contra...Martini Hortensii Delfensis criminationes et calumnies, quas in praefationem commentationum praeceptoris sui Philippi Lansbergii Middelburgensis, de motu terrae diurno et annuo etc. cosarcinnavit ("Defense of the Astronomical Observations and Theses of Tycho Brahe against the accusations and false claims of Martinus Hortensius of Delft, which appear in his preface of the commentary by his teacher Philip van Landsberge, who wrote on the daily and annual motion of the earth"). Van den Hove had attacked many of Tycho Brahe's claims in his preface to his Latin translation of a work by Landsbergen. This was the Commentationes in motum terrae diurnum, & annuum (Middelburg, 1630). The first Latin edition of Landsberge's illustrated treatise, the Commentationes taught the probability of earth’s motion according to the Copernican theory. Van den Hove regarded Landsberge, not Tycho Brahe, as the one who was restoring astronomy. "Only Landsberge held all ancient observations in esteem," Van den Hove wrote, "whereas Tycho, Longomontanus, and Kepler tended to neglect them."

Copenhagen Capital of Denmark

Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218. It forms the core of the wider urban area of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen metropolitan area. Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand; another small portion of the city is located on Amager, and is separated from Malmö, Sweden, by the strait of Øresund. The Øresund Bridge connects the two cities by rail and road.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Tycho Brahe Danish astronomer and alchemist

Tycho Brahe was a Danish nobleman, astronomer, and writer known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations. He was born in the then Danish peninsula of Scania. Well known in his lifetime as an astronomer, astrologer and alchemist, he has been described as "the first competent mind in modern astronomy to feel ardently the passion for exact empirical facts." His observations were some five times more accurate than the best available observations at the time.

Career as lecturer

At the encouragement of Gerard Vossius and Caspar Barlaeus, Van den Hove began lecturing on the mathematical sciences at the Amsterdam Atheneum (Athenaeum Illustre) in 1634. The Athenaeum Illustre, which had its seat in the fourteenth century Agnietenkapel, is commonly regarded as the predecessor of the University of Amsterdam. Upon assuming his new duties, Van den Hove delivered an inaugural speech, later published as De dignitate et utilitate Matheseos ("On the dignity and utility of the mathematical sciences").

Caspar Barlaeus Dutch polymath

Caspar Barlaeus was a Dutch polymath and Renaissance humanist, a theologian, poet, and historian.

University of Amsterdam university in Amsterdam

The University of Amsterdam is a public university located in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The UvA is one of two large, publicly funded research universities in the city, the other being the VU University Amsterdam (VU). Established in 1632 by municipal authorities and later renamed for the city of Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam is the third-oldest university in the Netherlands. It is one of the largest research universities in Europe with 31,186 students, 4,794 staff, 1,340 PhD students and an annual budget of €600 million. It is the largest university in the Netherlands by enrollment. The main campus is located in central Amsterdam, with a few faculties located in adjacent boroughs. The university is organised into seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Science, Law, Medicine, and Dentistry.

Van den Hove also lectured on optics at Amsterdam (1635), and on navigation (1637). In 1638, Van den Hove was made a member of the commission negotiating with Galileo on the determination of longitude by the method of Jupiter's moons.

Optics The branch of physics that studies light

Optics is the branch of physics that studies the behaviour and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behaviour of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Because light is an electromagnetic wave, other forms of electromagnetic radiation such as X-rays, microwaves, and radio waves exhibit similar properties.

Navigation The process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another

Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. The field of navigation includes four general categories: land navigation, marine navigation, aeronautic navigation, and space navigation.

Work and legacy

Van den Hove developed a method for measuring the diameters of planets based on the measured visual angle that his telescope revealed. His was probably the first independent set of measurements of the apparent sizes of the planets and fixed stars since the work of Hipparchus in his On Sizes and Distances some seventeen centuries earlier. [2] Van den Hove corresponded with René Descartes, Marin Mersenne, Pierre Gassendi, Christiaan Huygens, and Galileo Galilei. He was made full professor "in the Copernican theory" in 1635 and then nominated professor at Leiden University in 1639, but he died there shortly afterwards.

The crater Hortensius on the Moon is named after him.


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  1. Archived 2006-09-02 at the Wayback Machine .
  2. Van Helden, Albert (1986). Measuring the Universe: Cosmic Dimensions from Aristarchus to Halley. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press. p. 104. ISBN   978-0-226-84882-2.