Who was Eise Eisinga

Eise Eisinga was born in Dronrijp on February 21, 1744. He attended primary school there. Like many children, at that time, he had to work at home, which his case was in his father’s wool combing establishment. In addition to combing wool, he inherited his father’s interest in matters such as astronomy and mathematics. He was so curious that he went to Franeker every week, where he studied Euclides’s maths books with Willem Wijtses, a wool dyer. At the age of 24, Eisinga married Pietje Jacobs, after which he settled in Franeker in 1768, working as a wool comber.

The end of time

On May 8, 1774, a special constellation of planets formed. In the early morning, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the moon were positioned closely in the sky. It was claimed that the mutual forces of these celestial bodies would knock the earth off its path and cause it to be burned up by the sun.

A preacher from Bozum, Eelco Alta, made this prediction. In April 1774, the Leeuwarder Courant published a piece about the writing of this ‘lover of truth’, as he called himself. His piece of writing carried the title: ‘Philosophical concerns about the conjunction of the planets’. Alta’s ideas caused a lot of unrest among the population. The authorities attempted to intervene by banning the piece of writing, but the damage had already been done.

No need to panic!

Eisinga’s vast knowledge of mathematics and astronomy came in handy when, in May 1774, turmoil broke out in response to Eelco Alta’s prediction. In order to give the people a correct picture of the solar system, he built a model of the solar system in his living room. Only seven years passed between his very first idea and the final realisation of this project. Since 1781, Eisinga’s model has closely followed the paths of the 6 planets in our solar system. This makes it the oldest still-functioning planetarium in the world.

Documentary on DVD

A film has been made about the wonderful story of Eisinga, with special people in a time of scientific and social developments. History comes alive in this documentary with re-enacted scenes: we look over the shoulder of Eise Eisinga!

‘Eise Eisinga, the phenomenon of Franeker’ was made by Anton Stoelwinder Filmproducties of Gorredijk, in close collaboration with the Eise Eisinga Planetarium.
The film is available on DVD in the Planetarium for €14.95. You can also order the DVD. Transfer €16.95 to account NL52RABO of the Eisea Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker, with the subject: DVD. Please also mention your address information in the description, so we can send you the DVD.