Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Christiaan Huygens episode Het Klokhuis recorded at Leiden Observatory

The Klokhuis dedicates a special episode to Leiden alumnus and famous scientist Christiaan Huygens. Part of the episode was recorded at the Leiden Observatory. Leiden researchers also helped shape the episode, which debuts on Tuesday 2 November.

With a life spanning throughout the 17th century, The Hague-born Christiaan Huygens was a physicist, mathematician, astronomer, entomologist, inventor and more. He’s an important figure of the Dutch science canon and one of the best-known scientists of the Netherlands. Huygens entered Leiden University in 1645. 

The fame of his studies about light, colours, sound and energy conservation crossed centuries and now will have a special episode on Het Klokhuis, one of the most traditional shows of Dutch television.

Carmen Turner: ‘The Old Observatory Leiden has one of the few working replicas of the Huygens telescope. In this photo, you see Willeke Mulder using the telescope. With his design, consisting of two lenses and a 65-meter long wire, Christiaan Huygens was able to do his research. This is how he discovered that Saturn had rings!’

Leiden experts help Het Klokhuis

For the episode, Het Klokhuis editor Lennaert Lubberding needed help. Some of the experts that cooperated were Willeke Mulder, PhD candidate at Leiden Observatory, and Carmen Turner, student coordinator at the Leiden Observatory. 

Mulder gives an example of Huygens’ genius. ‘Het Klokhuis has described Christiaan Huygens as the “star” scientist that he was. To prove ideas, one must experiment. A lot. This is clear from the telescope Huygens built: the tube unloading it is 66 meters long! Just like Galileo’s telescope, it has two lenses – one of them is held by a piece of string. This shows how good Christiaan Huygens was at experimenting, because believe me, it is hard to keep those lenses in line with the string!’ 

‘Everything about him is impressive. Normal people are normally experts in one area, but Huygens had a wealth of knowledge in several different areas such as astronomy, mathematics, music… he’s probably one of the smartest people the Netherlands has ever known and we try to bring that in this episode”, Lubberding adds. 

Behind the science

‘One of the best things about Het Klokhuis is that the show always offers a peek at the people behind the science or the activity they’re showing, giving a human face to the subject in discussion’, says Sanne van Gammeren, coordinator at the Old Observatory Leiden.

The Het Klokhuis episode on Huygens debuts on 2 November, 18:40 on NPO3. The episode will also be available online for international audiences. 

TV monument Het Klokhuis

‘The show has been running since 1988 and it is a sort of “TV monument” in the Netherlands’, says Lennaert Lubberding, editor at the Dutch public service TV broadcaster NTR. Het Klokhuis covers a broad range of subjects, from food to culture to science, with a different episode aired every day. Its accessible language includes kids, who can send in their questions. ‘The episode on Huygens is about a series covering figures of the Dutch historical canon – the Canon van Nederland’, Lubberding explains.

Header image: Christiaan Huygens by Caspar Netscher 1671, oil painting, Museum Boerhaave in Leiden (edited). Picture made by Rob Koopman.

This website uses cookies.  More information.