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Mathematical Treasure: Stoffler's Art of Measurement

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Johannes Stöffler (1452–1531) was a German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologist, who also was a priest and a mathematical instrument maker. Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560), the Lutheran intellectual and reformer, was one of his pupils. In his manual on the “Art of Measurement,” published in 1536, Stöffler instructed his readers on the use of an astrolabe in determining various distances.

The illustrations depict determining the unknown height of a tower assisted by the presence of the tower’s shadow.

Here, an astrolabe is used to determine the depth of a cistern.

These images are presented through the courtesy of the Dartmouth College Libraries, Hanover, New Hampshire.


Index to Mathematical Treasures


Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Stoffler's Art of Measurement," Convergence (October 2019)