„Tobias Mayer is recognized as one of the greatest astronomers not only of the 18th century, but of all times and countries“. Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre, 1749-1822, French astronomer and historian.
When Tobias Mayer died at the age of only 39, he stood for his contemporaries already clear: A scientific pioneer has passed away. For Leonhard Euler Mayer was the „undoubtedly greatest Astronomer in Europe and his lunar charts the most excellent Masterpiece in theoretical „astronomy „. Carl Friedrich Gauss even spoke of „Mayer immortalis“ – the immortal Mayer.
Mayer strived for the highest precision – if necessary, he developed own measuring methods and devices. His self-developed Repetition circle is the best evidence for this: Mayer succeeded in one of the main astronomical inventions of the 18th century. He also did pioneer work in lunar cartography. He worked at the first Moon Globe of the world, his moon map remained for decades unsurpassed.
Mayer’s greatest legacy, however, are his lunar charts: they made the breakthrough in determining the longitude. He discovered that moon and stars are accurate timepieces and can be used to made an accurate position determination at sea possible.
He always put his research into the service of society, regardless whether mathematical textbooks, maps, lunar tables or star catalogs. With his inventions and insights he improved people’s lives.
As a pioneer of science in the time of enlightenment, Mayer, through his incomparable blend of idealism, accuracy and down-to-earthiness, actually made himself immortal.