Ferdinand Augustin Hallerstein

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Ferdinand Augustin Haller von Hallerstein, or Liu Songling
Born (1703-09-27)27 September 1703
Ljubljana, Carniola (then part of the Habsburg Monarchy, now in Slovenia)
Fields Astronomy, Demography
Institutions Head of the Imperial Astronomical Bureau and Board of Mathematics
Known for first astrolabe at the Beijing observatory

Ferdinand Augustin Haller von Hallerstein (Slovene: Ferdinand Avguštin Haller von Hallerstein, also known as August Allerstein, simplified Chinese: 刘松龄; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Liu Song ling (27 August 1703 – 29 October 1774), Jesuit missionary in China and Chinese astronomer from Carniola (then Habsburg Monarchy, now Slovenia), who spent 35 years at the Emperor Qianlong court as the Head of the Imperial Astronomical Bureau and Board of Mathematics and created an armillary sphere with rotating rings at the Beijing observatory; the Chinese first demographer who precisely calculated the exact number of Chinese population of the time (198,214,553). He also participated in Chinese cartography, being missionary, “cultural ambassador” and mandarin between the years 1739 -1774.

Life and work[edit]

Hallerstein was born in Mengeš, Carniola (then part of the Habsburg Monarchy, now in Slovenia).[1] He studied at the Jesuit college in Ljubljana (Laibach).[2]

He has been a member of the Academy of Sciences in all the three cities, from Germany and Vienna where he mainly published his scientific disputes, to Rome and Lisbon, the city of his correspondence and of his personal friend – the Queen of Portugal. It was from Portugal that he traveled to India as a missionary, where he worked in Goa and Macau and then continued his travel to Beijing.

The former Beijing Astronomical observatory, now a museum, still hosts the armillary sphere with rotating rings, which was made under Hallerstein’s leadership and is considered the most prominent astronomical instrument.

His list and the Chinese translation reached Europe in 1779. The Manchu rulers objected to census-taking, or at least to census-publication, lest the Chinese might recognize their strength and grow restless. It confirms all the calculations of one of his predecessors, Father Amiot and affords a proof of the progressive increase of the Chinese population. In the 25th year he found 196,837,977 souls, and in the following year, 198,214,624. Hallerstein's census is to be found in "Déscription Générale de la Chine", p. 283.

In Budapest, translations of his letters were published already in the 18th century.

A part of the Third Conference of the European Society for the History of Science was dedicated to Hallerstein and his transfer of mid-European science to Beijing and back. In recent years he has attracted the attention of Chinese historians as the creator of the most intriguing astronomic instrument at the old Beijing observatory, the spherical astrolabe, a “celestial globe”.

Legacy[edit]

The asteroid 15071 Hallerstein has been named after Hallerstein.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sandi Sitar, Sto slovenskih znanstvenikov (Ljubljana: Prešernova družba, 1987), 25.
  2. ^ Sandi Sitar, Sto slovenskih znanstvenikov (Ljubljana: Prešernova družba, 1987), 25.
  3. ^ "Slovenski jezuit, ki ima svoj asteroid" [A Slovene Jesuit Who Has His Own Asteroid]. MMC RTV Slovenija (in Slovene). RTV Slovenija.