Michael Florent van Langren, called Langrenus, was born in Arnhem in the Netherlands in 1598. He died in Brussels in 1675. At the time, the Southern Netherlands were under Spanish rule.
As mathematician and astronomer of the King of Spain, Langrenus initially wanted to calculate the longitudes of the earth. These data are used for navigation among others.
In order determine the longitudes, Langrenus observed the changes in the dark and bright areas of the moon’s mountains and craters in order to find out by which time they changed. His predecessors only observed the moon during lunar eclipses however.
Langrenus mapped the visible face of the moon and developed selenography. He named the mountain ranges and bright spots of the moon after famous persons: Isabelle, Ferdinandi (Archdukes), Philippi (King of Spain), Mare Belgicum (Mare Tranquillitatis), etc.
The method used by Langrenus would later be replaced by the one proposed by Galileo, which was based on the observation of the eclipses of the Jupiter satellites.
This map of the moon (34.9 cm x 37.3 cm) entitled “Luna vel lumina Austriaca Philippica” was painted with water colour on paper by Langrenus at around 1644-1645. This map is conserved at the National Archives of Belgium in Brussels as part of the manuscript maps and plans collection and originated from the archives of the Privy Council. This remarkable map of the moon can be accessed in digital format in all State Archives repositories (www.arch.be).
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Handwritten inscription in lower right corner:
Chaque montagne et Isle
aura le nom de quelque personne
renomme en cet art et professi-
on de toutes Nations. Lesquelles il
a besoing en ses observations Ast-
ronomiques et Geographiques