Welcome to the web site of Nicoląs de Hilster, PhD

In May 2018 I graduated on early modern navigational instruments (click to find out more).
Figure 1: In May 2018 I graduated on early modern navigational instruments (click to find out more).
I am a hydrographic surveyor by education and the founding owner of a company in specialised measurements in the hydrographic and geodetic field. Main field of work are offset surveys and calibrations of hydrographic survey, offshore and naval vessels. In addition I give courses and training related to surveying and the instruments involved and am lecturing at the Cat A bachelor hydrography course at the Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz on the isle of Terschelling, the Netherlands, since 2007.
In my private life I am a collector and independent researcher of nautical and geodetic instruments since 1994. The main focus of my research lies on instruments used for latitude determination at sea from Thomas Harriot to John Hadley and their contemporaries. Part of my research is creating reconstructions and replicas of the instruments and to use them in the field for a better understanding of their capabilities. In addition to that I am interested in geodetic instruments and their development from Martin Waldseemüller to Heinrich Wild and their contemporaries.

On 9 May 2018 I graduated on the topic. Since then, the focus of my research has shifted to astronomy, dealing with both its early-modern and modern history and the modern techniques available to an amateur astronomer, which include equipment calibrations, instrument making, data acquisition and processing. In 2021 I joined the AAVSO's Solar Observing Project that aims to re-calibrate historical sunspot observations. Observations for that project are done with the Galilean Type Telescope in the observatory.

Apart from being a researcher I am the Dutch representative and webmaster for the Scientific Instrument Society (SIS) and one of the moderators of the Dutch astronomy forum Starry-Night.nl.

This web site gives an overview of a part of my collection of nautical and geodetic instruments and the research on them, the works I consulted and collected on the topic and papers and PhD thesis I published.

If you have any questions and/or remarks please let me know.

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