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Nicolas Zucchi, S.J.
(1586 - 1670)
the renowned telescope maker

Nicolas Zucchi, S.J.

Nicolas Zucchi. S.J. was born in Parma, Italy and died in Rome. He taught mathematics at the Roman College and conversed often with Gaspar Schott, S.J. Laland speaks with great admiration concerning his innovation, the reflecting telescope. He was held in such great esteem that he was sent as a papal legate to the court of the Emperor Ferdinand II. It was there that he first met Kepler, and the two continued corrresponding throughout their lives.

Zucchi was a very skilled telescope-maker and in the Dictionary of Scientific biography, Luigi Campedelli gives credit to Zucchi for ground-breaking contributions to the use of the reflecting telescope.

In 1616 (or perhaps 1608) he had constructed an apparatus in which an ocular lens was used to observe the image produced by reflection from a concave metal mirror. This was one of the earliest reflecting telescopes, in which the enlargement is obtained by the interaction of mirrors and lenses. Later, in Optica philosophia . . ., Zucchi described the apparatus, from which. wittingly or not, the most improved models of a slightly later date were derived (those of Gregory and Newton, for instance).

Nicolas Zucchi, S.J. was famous for his skill in constructing telescopes

This apparatus enabled Zucchi to make a more thorough examination of the spots on Mars (1640). observed four years earlier by F. Fontana. and thus to supply material for Cassini's discovery of the rotation of that planet ( 1666).

Nicolas Zucchi brought one of his reflecting telescopes to Kepler as a gift from the Society of Jesus at the urging of another Jesuit scientist Paul Guldin. Kepler was so thrilled with it that he dedicated his last book to Paul Guldin. The "Zucchi" lunar crater is named in honor of Nicolas Zucchi.


Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu ( AHSI ) Rome: Institutum Historicum
Bangert, William A History of the Society of Jesus. St. Louis: St. Louis Institute, 1972uis, 1810
Gillispie, Charles. C. ed., Dictionary of Scientific biography. 16 vols. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1970
{ Reference to him in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography is found in v 14 p636-637
Sommervogel, Carolus Bibliothèque de la compagnie de Jésus. 12 volumes. Bruxelles: Société Belge de Libraire, 1890-1960
{17 entries are found in Sommervogel; some examples are the following:
Optica Philosphia experimentis (Rome, 1652)
Machinarum omnium vires (Paris, 1646)

Adventures of Some Early Jesuit Scientists

José de Acosta, S.J. - 1600: Pioneer of the Geophysical Sciences
François De Aguilon, S.J. - 1617: and his Six books on Optics
Roger Joseph Boscovich, S.J. - 1787: and his atomic theory
Christopher Clavius, S.J. - 1612: and his Gregorian Calendar
Honoré Fabri, S.J. - 1688: and his post-calculus geometry
Francesco M. Grimaldi, S.J. - 1663: and his diffraction of light
Paul Guldin, S.J. - 1643: applications of Guldin's Rule
Maximilian Hell, S.J. - 1792: and his Mesmerizing encounters
Athanasius Kircher, S.J. - 1680: The Master of a Hundred Arts
Francesco Lana-Terzi, S.J. - 1687: The Father of Aeronautics
Francis Line, S.J. - 1654: the hunted and elusive clock maker
Juan Molina, S.J. - 1829: The First Scientist of Chile
Jerôme Nadal, S.J. -1580: perspective art and composition of place
Ignace Pardies, S.J. - 1673: and his influence on Newton
Andrea Pozzo, S.J. - 1709: and his perspective geometry
Vincent Riccati, S.J. - 1775: and his hyperbolic functions
Matteo Ricci, S.J. - 1610: who brought scientific innovations to China
John Baptist Riccioli, S.J. - 167I: and his long-lived selenograph
Girolamo Saccheri, S.J. - 1733: and his solution to Euclid's blemish
Theorems of Saccheri, S.J. - 1733: and his non Euclidean Geometry
Christopher Scheiner, S.J. - 1650: sunspots and his equatorial mount
Gaspar Schott, S.J. - 1666: and the experiment at Magdeburg
Angelo Secchi, S.J. - 1878: the Father of Astrophysics
Joseph Stepling, S.J. - 1650: symbolic logic and his research academy
André Tacquet, S.J. - 1660: and his treatment of infinitesimals
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S. J. - 1955: and The Phenomenon of man
Ferdinand Verbiest, S.J. - 1688: an influential Jesuit scientist in China
Juan Bautista Villalpando, S.J. - 1608: and his version of Solomon's Temple
Gregory Saint Vincent, S.J. - 1667: and his polar coordinates
Nicolas Zucchi, S.J. - 1670: the renowned telescope maker

Influence of Some Early Jesuit Scientists

The 35 lunar craters named to honor Jesuit Scientists: their location and description
Post-Pombal Portugal opinion of Pre-Pombal Jesuit Scientists: a recent conference
Seismology, The Jesuit Science. a Jesuit history of geophysics

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Jesuit history, tradition and spirituality

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