Willebrord Snell

About Willebrord Snell

Who is it?: Astronomer & Mathematician
Birth Day: June 13, 1580
Birth Place: Leiden, Dutch Republic, Dutch
Alma mater: University of Leiden
Known for: Snell's law
Fields: Astronomer and mathematician
Institutions: University of Leiden
Academic advisors: Ludolph van Ceulen Rudolph Snellius
Notable students: Jacobus Golius

Willebrord Snell

Willebrord Snell was born on June 13, 1580 in Leiden, Dutch Republic, Dutch, is Astronomer & Mathematician. Willebrord Snel van Royen, also referred to as Willebrordus Snellius in most of his publications, was a 17thcentury Dutch astronomer and mathematician. Over the centuries, people recall him for one of the greatest findings in the world of science—thelaw of refraction. Until recently, it was believed that he was the proprietor of the theory; however, it was discovered that the law was actually formulated by Ibn Sahl and that Snell had only rediscovered it.Although he had originally studied law, he was a mathematical genius and made numerous contributions to the field. Snell, as he was called by the western world, brought about a major revolution when he developed a new method to calculate the mathematical function ‘Pi’, which led to tremendous development in the field of mathematics. Snell had published several of his works; the two most acknowledged and acclaimed are ‘Eratosthenes Batavus’ and ‘Tiphys Batavus’. At the peak of his career, he travelled all through Europe making more discoveries and working on several findings, especially in the field of astronomy. It was at this time that he collaborated with the best in the astronomical world, such as Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe.
Willebrord Snell is a member of Scientists

Does Willebrord Snell Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Willebrord Snell has been died on 30 October 1626(1626-10-30) (aged 46)\nLeiden, Dutch Republic.

🎂 Willebrord Snell - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Willebrord Snell die, Willebrord Snell was 46 years old.

Popular As Willebrord Snell
Occupation Scientists
Age 46 years old
Zodiac Sign Cancer
Born June 13, 1580 (Leiden, Dutch Republic, Dutch)
Birthday June 13
Town/City Leiden, Dutch Republic, Dutch
Nationality Dutch

🌙 Zodiac

Willebrord Snell’s zodiac sign is Cancer. According to astrologers, the sign of Cancer belongs to the element of Water, just like Scorpio and Pisces. Guided by emotion and their heart, they could have a hard time blending into the world around them. Being ruled by the Moon, phases of the lunar cycle deepen their internal mysteries and create fleeting emotional patterns that are beyond their control. As children, they don't have enough coping and defensive mechanisms for the outer world, and have to be approached with care and understanding, for that is what they give in return.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Willebrord Snell was born in the Year of the Dragon. A powerful sign, those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Dragon are energetic and warm-hearted, charismatic, lucky at love and egotistic. They’re natural born leaders, good at giving orders and doing what’s necessary to remain on top. Compatible with Monkey and Rat.

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By necessity Snellius's high points were nearly all church spires. There were hardly any other tall buildings at that time in the west of the Netherlands. More or less ordered from north to south and/or in successive order of measuring, Snellius used a network of fourteen measure points: Alkmaar : St. Laurenskerk; Haarlem : Sint-Bavokerk; Leiden : a then new part (built in 1599) of the City walls; The Hague : Sint-Jacobskerk; Amsterdam : Oude Kerk; Utrecht : Cathedral of Utrecht; Zaltbommel : Sint-Maartenskerk; Gouda : Sint Janskerk; Oudewater : Sint-Michaelskerk; Rotterdam : Sint-Laurenskerk; Dordrecht : Grote Kerk; Willemstad : Koepelkerk; Bergen-op-Zoom : Gertrudiskerk; Breda : Grote Kerk


Willebrord Snellius was born in Leiden, Netherlands. In 1613 he succeeded his Father, Rudolph Snel van Royen (1546–1613) as professor of mathematics at the University of Leiden.


In 1615 Snellius, after the work of Eratosthenes in Ptolemaic Egypt in the 3rd century BC, probably was the first to try to do a large-scale experiment to measure the circumference of the earth using triangulation. He was helped in his measurements by two of his students, the Austrian barons Erasmus and Casparus Sterrenberg. In several cities he also received support of friends among the city Leaders (regenten). In his work The terrae Ambitus vera quantitate (1617) under the author's name ("The Dutch Eratosthenes") Snellius describes the methods he used. He came up with an estimate of 28,500 Rhineland rods – in modern units 107.37 km for one degree of latitude. 360 times 107.37 then gives a circumference of the Earth of 38,653 km. The actual circumference is 40,075 kilometers, so Snellius underestimated the circumference of the earth by 3.5%.


In addition to the Eratosthenes Batavus, he published Cyclometricus, de circuli dimensione (1621), and Tiphys Batavus (1624). He also edited Coeli et siderum in eo errantium observationes Hassiacae (1618), containing the astronomical observations of Landgrave william IV of Hesse. A work on trigonometry (Doctrina triangulorum) authored by Snellius was published a year after his death.


Snellius died at Leiden on October 1626, at the age of 46 from an illness diagnosed as colic. His grave can be seen in the Pieterskerk, Leiden, which has since been deconsecrated.


Snellius came to his result by calculating the distances between a number of high points in the plain west and southwest of the Netherlands using triangulation. In order to carry out these measurements accurately Snellius had a large quadrant built, with which he could accurately measure angles in tenths of degrees. This quadrant can still be seen in the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden. In a network of fourteen cities a total of 53 triangulation measurements were made. In his calculations Snellius made use of a solution for what is now called the Snellius–Pothenot Problem.


Snellius was also a distinguished Mathematician, producing a new method for calculating π—the first such improvement since ancient times. He rediscovered the law of refraction in 1621.

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