Hell, Maximilian

BORN 15 May 1720, Selmecbánya (now: Banská Stiavnica) - DIED 14 Apr 1792, Wien
BIRTH NAME Höll, Rudolf Maximilian
GRAVE LOCATION Maria Enzersdorf, Niederösterreich: Romantikerfriedhof, Grenzgasse 7 (cenotaph (grave cleared))

Maximilian Hell was the son of the engineer Matthias Cornelius Hell. He joined the Jesuits in 1738 and he studied mathematics and philosophy at the University of Vienna. In 1745 he became assistant to the astronomer Joseph Franz (1704-1776) and he worked as a teacher from 1746 to 1747. After he studied theology in Vienna he became a priest in 1752. When he worked as a teacher at the Jesuit College in Cluj-Napoca in Romania and there he established an observatory.

He became the director of the University Observatory in Vienna after he succeeded Johann Jakob Marinoni as court astronomer. In 1769 he observed the transit of Venus in Vardř after an invitation by king Christian VII of Denmark. After he made a calculation of the distance between the sun and the earth based on transits of Venus in 1761 and 1769 he was accused of fraud. A century after his death his calculations were confirmed.

His "Ephemerides astronomicae ad meridianum Vindobonensem" was published in 37 volumes between 1757 and 1792. He died in 1792 in Vienna and was buried at the Romantikerfriedhof in Maria Enzersdorf. After his grave was neglected it was removed and used again. Now there is a bust of him at the cemetery serving as a cenotaph.


The cenotaph for Maximilian Hell at the Romantikerfriedhof in Maria Enzersdorf.
Picture by Androom (11 Aug 2018)


Maximilian Hell - Wikipedia

Hellberg, Ruth

Published: 14 Aug 2023
Last update: 14 Aug 2023