Anders Celsius: The Astronomer Who Developed the Celsius Temperature Scale

At the beginning of the 18th century, the world literally didn’t know what the temperature was. While Fahrenheit had invented his temperature scale in the 1720s, it had a complicated formula and assigned arbitrary numbers that didn’t have any real meaning. Not until 1742, when Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius developed the temperature scale named after him, did the world have a uniform way to measure temperature.

To understand how revolutionary Celsius’ scale was and how he came up with it, we need to learn more about Anders Celsius, the man behind the thermometer.

Who Was Anders Celsius?

Anders Celsius was born into a family of scholars in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1701. This was an era of exploration and discovery, and Celsius’s birth coincided with the making of some of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of the modern world.

As a young man, Celsius attended Uppsala University, where he studied law, mathematics, and astronomy. Celsius rapidly became a well-known and highly-regarded scholar, and even taught astronomy at the same university he had attended. Additionally, in 1740, Celsius was appointed director of the Stockholm Observatory, one of the most prestigious research institutions of its time.

Developing the Celsius Temperature Scale

In 1742, Celsius set out to reform the traditional temperature scales by creating a temperature scale based on more universal values. The Celsius scale replaced Fahrenheit’s arbitrary temperature numbers with ones that had a specific mathematical meaning.

Moreover, Celsius developed a measurement system that had rational divisions. Whereas Fahrenheit’s scale used formulas with strange numerators, Celsius system had base-10 multiples with a maximum capacity of 100 degrees. It also had a logical numbering system, where 0 was assigned to the freezing point of water and 100 to the boiling point of water.

It took a few years before Celsius’s work was accepted, however, by the end of the 1740s, Celsius’s thermometer and its temperature scale began to be widely used within academia as well as in astronomy, navigation and meteorology.

The Legacy of Anders Celsius

Today, Celsius’s unit remains the primary temperature scale in use across the world. His temperature scale was even used by the International Temperature Scale of 1990 (ITS-90).

In addition to his work on temperature scales, Celsius also wrote a book on astronomy which greatly enhanced our knowledge of the stars. He also studied the aurora borealis and proposed an explanation for the red glow phenomenon.

Moreover, Celsius defended Copernicus’s heliocentric theory and is credited with the prediction of the return of Halley’s Comet in 1757, due to his calculation of its previous cycles.

On top of all these scientific achievements, Celsius was a beloved professor among the student body at Uppsala University.

Anders Celsius’s work had a huge impact on the scientific world. His temperature scale is still in use and is a testament to his great intellect, curiosity and determination. Many may not know his name, but his Celsius scale lives on and is an essential tool used in laboratories and academic research centers all over the world.

The legacy of Anders Celsius has and will continue to revolutionize the way in which the world measures and understands temperature.