Anders Celsius was born in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1701 to a family of scientists. His grandfathers, Magnus Celsius and Anders Spole, were professors of mathematics and astronomy.
Nils Celsius, his father, was also an astronomy professor.
Anders Celsius earned a position as professor of astronomy himself at Uppsala University at age 29. In 1732, he embarked on a tour throughout Europe of the well-known observatories of the time.
After this tour, be joined an expedition with the astronomer Maupertuis to Torneå, in the north of Sweden, on his famous Lapland Expedition.
The goal of this trip was to collect geographical data near the North Pole for comparison to geographical data near the equator.
The data collected on this trip confirmed some of Isaac Newton’s theories about the shape of the Earth. The results from this trip made a large impact, and brought Celsius to fame.
With this fame came funding for a new observatory in Uppsala.
The Celsius observatory at Uppsala University was completed in 1741. Due to its collection of tools and instruments from Celsius’ tour around the European observatories, it was the most advanced observatory at the time.
In that period of time, much of the meteorological and geographical data was considered to be part of astronomy, so Celsius also engaged in those areas of research in his astronomy career. He used colored plates of glass to measure the magnitude, or brightness, or the stars he identified.
For instance, he helped compile data for the Swedish map, and noticed that the northern countries’ height above sea level was increasing. He believed at the time that the ocean water was evaporating.
Most notably, Celsius developed the first Celsius thermometer in order to take meterological measurements.
Originally, this temperature scale used 0 for the point at which water boils, and 100 for the point at which water freezes. Later, the scale was reversed into the current metric.
His goal for this new thermometer was to establish an internationally-used scale of temperature for the purposes of collective scientific reporting. To this day, Celsius is used internationally as the official scientific measurement of temperature.
He also noticed that the auroras were influenced by magnetic fields, based on the observation that compass needles would deviate in response to their activity; greater needle deviations followed more powerful aurora activity.
Much of his research also included observing and cataloging astronomical bodies, which were published in the Swedish Royal Society of Sciences. For his work, Celsius served as the secretary of the organization.
He wrote a book on the study of mathematics targeted for children that became very popular, Arithmetics for the Swedish Youth. He was also a vocal proponent of switching Sweden onto the Gregorian calendar, which was accomplished in 1753.
Later Years and Death
Unfortunately, Anders Celsius contracted tuberculosis in 1744, and passed away at the age of 42. He is buried next to his grandfather Magnus Celsius at a church in Uppsala.