Short Term Scientific Mission

Per Pippin Aspaas: Astronomia disciplina maxime oecumenica?


In the period 19 February – 2 March 2017, I stayed in Basel as a STSM grantee. My host was Dr. Fritz Nagel of the Bernoulli-Euler Zentrum, whose office is located at the Universitätsbibliothek Basel.


The main task of my stay was to go through the surviving correspondence of the Basel-born savant Johann III Bernoulli, who served as Astronomer Royal of Berlin during the 1760s, 1770s, and 1780s. In investigating his Nachlass, I was looking for correspondence dealing with astronomy, not just any kind of learned, or private, exchange of information. Thanks to generous guidance from Dr. Nagel and extraordinary services provided by the staff at the Sonderlesesaal, I managed to go through all letters that one could expect to deal with astronomy. Brief abstracts of a substantial number of letters were made on the spot, whereas others were photographed for further study at home.


The STSM grant enabled me to go through unique materials of this member of the Bernoulli family, whose correspondence has not been studied, nor edited except for very small fractions, until now. The expected outcome of the STSM is twofold. Firstly, a number of letters will soon be exported from my excel files and uploaded into EMLO. Secondly, an analytical article will be prepared by Thomas Wallnig and myself, exploring to what extent astronomers cross confessional boundaries in their scientific correspondence. Johann III Bernoulli will be one of several astronomers whose correspondence will be analyzed for our article.