Mayer_Tobias

# Johann Tobias Mayer

### Born: 17 Feb 1723 in Marbach, Württemberg,
Germany

Died: 20 Feb 1762 in Göttingen,
Germany

**Tobias Mayer** was a self taught mathematician who worked
as a cartographer in Nürnberg. He discovered the libration of the Moon and this
gained him fame which led to his appointment as professor of economics and
mathematics at Göttingen in 1751.

Mayer began calculating lunar and solar tables in 1753 and in
1755 he sent them to the British government. These tables were good enough to
determine longitude at sea with an accuracy of half a degree. Mayer's method of
determining longitude by lunar distances and a formula for correcting errors in
longitude due to atmospheric refraction were published
in 1770 after his death.

In a preface written to his tables written in 1760 Mayer says

*I am the more unwilling my tables should lie any longer
concealed; especially as the most celebrated astronomers of almost every age
have ardently wished for a perfect theory of the Moon ... on account of its
singular use in navigation. I have constructed theses tables ... with respect
to the inequalities of motions, from that famous theory of the great *Newton*,
which that eminent mathematician *Eulerus*
first elegantly reduced to general analytic equations.*

In the first issue of the Nautical Almanac there was a
description by Maskelyne
of Mayer's tables

*The Tables of the Moon had been brought by the late
Professor Mayer of Göttingen to a sufficient exactness to determine the
Longitude at Sea to within a Degree, as appeared by the Trials of several
Persons who made use of them. The Difficulty and Length of the necessary
Calculations seemed the only Obstacles to hinder them from becoming of general
Use.*

The Board of Longitude sent Mayer's widow
3000 as an award for the tables.