Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers
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|Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers|
Lithograph by Rudolph Suhrlandt
October 11, 1758|
Arbergen, Holy Roman Empire
|Died||March 2, 1840
Free Hanseatic City of Bremen
|Known for||Olbers' paradox
Life and career
Olbers was born in Arbergen, today part of Bremen, and studied to be a physician at Göttingen. After his graduation in 1780, he began practicing medicine in Bremen. At night he dedicated his time to astronomical observation, making the upper story of his home into an observatory. He also devised the first satisfactory method of calculating cometary orbits.
On March 28, 1802, Olbers discovered and named the asteroid Pallas. Five years later, on March 29, 1807, he discovered the asteroid Vesta, which he allowed Carl Friedrich Gauss to name. As the word "asteroid" was not yet coined, the literature of the time referred to these minor planets as planets in their own right. He proposed that the asteroid belt, where these objects lay, was the remnants of a planet that had been destroyed. The current view of most scientists is that tidal effects from the planet Jupiter disrupted the planet-formation process in the asteroid belt.
Olbers was deputed by his fellow citizens to assist at the baptism of Napoleon II of France on June 9, 1811, and he was a member of the corps legislatif in Paris 1812–1813. He died in Bremen aged 81. He was twice married, and one son survived him.
In 1804 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1822, and in 1827 a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
The following celestial features are named for him:
- 13P/Olbers is a periodic comet.
- Asteroid 1002 Olbersia.
- The crater Olbers on the Moon.
- Olbers, a 200-km-diameter dark albedo feature on Vesta's surface
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers.|
- Cunningham, C. J. (2006). The Origin of the Asteroids: Olbers versus Regner. Star Lab Press. ISBN 0-9708162-5-1.
- Bessel, F. W. (1845). "Über Olbers. Von Herrn Geh. – Rath Bessel". Astronomische Nachrichten 22 (18): 265. Bibcode:1845AN.....22..265B. doi:10.1002/asna.18450221802.
- William Herschel (1800–1814). "Observations on the Nature of the New Celestial Body Discovered by Dr. Olbers, and of the Comet Which Was Expected to Appear Last January in Its Return from the Sun". Abstracts of the Papers Printed in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 1: 271–272. doi:10.1098/rspl.1800.0148.
- Lynn, W. T. (1907). "The Discovery of Vesta". The Observatory 30: 103–105. Bibcode:1907Obs....30..103L.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. – see, for instance, "Olbers," Britannica