astronomer, and physicist who improved standards of observation and
navigation. He produced a map of the Moon's surface and concluded that
it had no atmosphere.
Mayer was born in Marbach, near Stuttgart. He learned architectural
drawing and surveying and taught himself mathematics, French, Italian,
and English. He published his first book, on the application of analytical
methods to the solution of geometrical problems, at the age of 18. In
1746 he began work for the Homann Cartographic Bureau in Nuremberg,
and he ended his career as professor at the Georg August Academy in
At the Homann Cartographic Bureau, Mayer drew up some 30 maps of Germany.
These established exacting new standards for using geographical data
in conjunction with astronomical details to determine latitudes and
longitudes on Earth. To obtain some of the astronomical details, he
observed lunar oscillations and eclipses using a telescope of his own
Mayer's Lunar Tables 1753 were correct to one minute of arc.
Mayer also invented a simple and accurate method for calculating solar
eclipses, compiled a catalogue of zodiacal stars, and studied stellar