Max Wolf

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Max Wolf
Max Wolf.jpg
Max Wolf
Born (1863-06-21)June 21, 1863
Heidelberg, Germany
Died October 3, 1932(1932-10-03) (aged 69)
Heidelberg, Germany
Nationality German
Fields Astronomy
Institutions University of Heidelberg
Alma mater University of Heidelberg
Doctoral advisor Leo Königsberger
Doctoral students August Kopff
Heinrich Vogt
Wilhelm Lorenz
Known for Astrophotography
Notable awards Bruce Medal (1930)
Asteroids discovered: 248
323 Brucia December 22, 1891
325 Heidelberga March 4, 1892
328 Gudrun March 18, 1892
329 Svea March 21, 1892
330 Adalberta February 2, 1910
332 Siri March 19, 1892
333 Badenia August 22, 1892
334 Chicago August 23, 1892
339 Dorothea September 25, 1892
340 Eduarda September 25, 1892
341 California September 25, 1892
342 Endymion October 17, 1892
343 Ostara November 15, 1892
351 Yrsa December 16, 1892
352 Gisela January 12, 1893
353 Ruperto-Carola January 16, 1893
385 Ilmatar March 1, 1894
386 Siegena March 1, 1894
391 Ingeborg November 1, 1894
392 Wilhelmina November 4, 1894
393 Lampetia November 4, 1894
399 Persephone February 23, 1895
401 Ottilia March 16, 1895
407 Arachne October 13, 1895
408 Fama October 13, 1895
412 Elisabetha January 7, 1896
413 Edburga January 7, 1896
415 Palatia February 7, 1896
417 Suevia May 6, 1896
418 Alemannia September 7, 1896
419 Aurelia September 7, 1896
420 Bertholda September 7, 1896
421 Zähringia September 7, 1896
434 Hungaria September 11, 1898
435 Ella[1] September 11, 1898
436 Patricia[1] September 13, 1898
442 Eichsfeldia[1] February 15, 1899
443 Photographica[1] February 17, 1899
446 Aeternitas[1] October 27, 1899
447 Valentine[1] October 27, 1899
448 Natalie[1] October 27, 1899
449 Hamburga[1] October 31, 1899
450 Brigitta[1] October 10, 1899
455 Bruchsalia[1] May 22, 1900
456 Abnoba[1] June 4, 1900
457 Alleghenia[1] September 15, 1900
458 Hercynia[1] September 21, 1900
459 Signe October 22, 1900
460 Scania October 22, 1900
461 Saskia October 22, 1900
462 Eriphyla October 22, 1900
463 Lola October 31, 1900
464 Megaira January 9, 1901
465 Alekto January 13, 1901
466 Tisiphone[2] January 17, 1901
467 Laura January 9, 1901
468 Lina January 18, 1901
471 Papagena June 7, 1901
473 Nolli February 13, 1901
474 Prudentia February 13, 1901
480 Hansa[2] May 21, 1901
482 Petrina March 3, 1902
483 Seppina March 4, 1902
484 Pittsburghia April 29, 1902
488 Kreusa[2] June 26, 1902
490 Veritas September 3, 1902
491 Carina September 3, 1902
492 Gismonda September 3, 1902
493 Griseldis September 7, 1902
494 Virtus October 7, 1902
495 Eulalia October 25, 1902
496 Gryphia October 25, 1902
499 Venusia December 24, 1902
500 Selinur January 16, 1903
501 Urhixidur January 18, 1903
502 Sigune January 19, 1903
509 Iolanda April 28, 1903
512 Taurinensis June 23, 1903
513 Centesima August 24, 1903
514 Armida August 24, 1903
515 Athalia September 20, 1903
520 Franziska[3] October 27, 1903
522 Helga January 10, 1904
524 Fidelio March 14, 1904
526 Jena March 14, 1904
527 Euryanthe March 20, 1904
528 Rezia March 20, 1904
529 Preziosa March 20, 1904
530 Turandot April 11, 1904
531 Zerlina April 12, 1904
532 Herculina April 20, 1904
539 Pamina August 2, 1904
540 Rosamunde August 3, 1904
541 Deborah August 4, 1904
549 Jessonda November 15, 1904
550 Senta November 16, 1904
551 Ortrud November 16, 1904
552 Sigelinde December 14, 1904
553 Kundry December 27, 1904
555 Norma January 14, 1905
557 Violetta January 26, 1905
558 Carmen February 9, 1905
559 Nanon March 8, 1905
560 Delila March 13, 1905
561 Ingwelde March 26, 1905
562 Salome April 3, 1905
565 Marbachia May 9, 1905
570 Kythera July 30, 1905
573 Recha September 19, 1905
574 Reginhild September 19, 1905
575 Renate September 19, 1905
577 Rhea October 20, 1905
578 Happelia November 1, 1905
580 Selene December 17, 1905
586 Thekla February 21, 1906
587 Hypsipyle February 22, 1906
588 Achilles February 22, 1906
590 Tomyris March 4, 1906
592 Bathseba March 18, 1906
594 Mireille March 27, 1906
597 Bandusia April 16, 1906
598 Octavia April 13, 1906
601 Nerthus June 21, 1906
605 Juvisia August 27, 1906
609 Fulvia September 24, 1906
610 Valeska September 26, 1906
641 Agnes September 8, 1907
642 Clara September 8, 1907
659 Nestor March 23, 1908
683 Lanzia July 23, 1909
692 Hippodamia[4] November 5, 1901
707 Steina December 22, 1910
712 Boliviana March 19, 1911
733 Mocia September 16, 1912
798 Ruth November 21, 1914
800 Kressmannia March 20, 1915
801 Helwerthia March 20, 1915
802 Epyaxa March 20, 1915
805 Hormuthia April 17, 1915
806 Gyldenia April 18, 1915
807 Ceraskia April 18, 1915
809 Lundia August 11, 1915
810 Atossa September 8, 1915
811 Nauheima September 8, 1915
813 Baumeia November 28, 1915
815 Coppelia February 2, 1916
816 Juliana February 8, 1916
817 Annika February 6, 1916
818 Kapteynia February 21, 1916
819 Barnardiana March 3, 1916
820 Adriana March 30, 1916
821 Fanny March 31, 1916
822 Lalage March 31, 1916
823 Sisigambis March 31, 1916
826 Henrika April 28, 1916
831 Stateira September 20, 1916
832 Karin September 20, 1916
833 Monica September 20, 1916
834 Burnhamia September 20, 1916
835 Olivia September 23, 1916
836 Jole September 23, 1916
837 Schwarzschilda September 23, 1916
838 Seraphina September 24, 1916
839 Valborg September 24, 1916
840 Zenobia September 25, 1916
841 Arabella October 1, 1916
842 Kerstin October 1, 1916
845 Naëma November 16, 1916
860 Ursina January 22, 1917
861 Aïda January 22, 1917
862 Franzia January 28, 1917
863 Benkoela February 9, 1917
865 Zubaida February 15, 1917
866 Fatme February 25, 1917
868 Lova April 26, 1917
870 Manto May 12, 1917
871 Amneris May 14, 1917
872 Holda May 21, 1917
873 Mechthild May 21, 1917
874 Rotraut May 25, 1917
875 Nymphe May 19, 1917
879 Ricarda July 22, 1917
880 Herba July 22, 1917
881 Athene July 22, 1917
883 Matterania September 14, 1917
884 Priamus September 22, 1917
887 Alinda January 3, 1918
888 Parysatis February 2, 1918
889 Erynia March 5, 1918
890 Waltraut March 11, 1918
891 Gunhild May 17, 1918
892 Seeligeria May 31, 1918
893 Leopoldina May 31, 1918
894 Erda June 4, 1918
895 Helio July 11, 1918
896 Sphinx August 1, 1918
897 Lysistrata August 3, 1918
898 Hildegard August 3, 1918
899 Jokaste August 3, 1918
900 Rosalinde August 10, 1918
901 Brunsia August 30, 1918
904 Rockefellia October 29, 1918
907 Rhoda November 12, 1918
908 Buda November 30, 1918
914 Palisana July 4, 1919
919 Ilsebill October 30, 1918
927 Ratisbona February 16, 1920
946 Poësia February 11, 1921
949 Hel March 11, 1921
972 Cohnia January 18, 1922
1008 La Paz October 31, 1923
1021 Flammario March 11, 1924
1038 Tuckia November 24, 1924
1039 Sonneberga November 24, 1924
1053 Vigdis November 16, 1925
1069 Planckia January 28, 1927
1134 Kepler September 25, 1929
1141 Bohmia January 4, 1930
1169 Alwine[5] August 30, 1930
1178 Irmela March 13, 1931
1179 Mally March 19, 1931
1203 Nanna October 5, 1931
1214 Richilde January 1, 1932
1219 Britta February 6, 1932
1365 Henyey September 9, 1928
1514 Ricouxa August 22, 1906
1661 Granule March 31, 1916
1703 Barry September 2, 1930
1967 Menzel November 1, 1905
2017 Wesson September 20, 1903
2119 Schwall[5] August 30, 1930
2298 Cindijon October 2, 1915
2373 Immo August 4, 1929
2443 Tomeileen January 24, 1906
2483 Guinevere August 17, 1928
2533 Fechtig November 3, 1905
2650 Elinor March 14, 1931
2732 Witt March 19, 1926
3034 Climenhaga September 24, 1917
3202 Graff January 3, 1908
3396 Muazzez October 15, 1915
3626 Ohsaki August 4, 1929
3907 Kilmartin August 14, 1904
4588 Wislicenus March 13, 1931
4775 Hansen October 3, 1927
4809 Robertball September 5, 1928
5702 Morando March 16, 1931
5926 Schönfeld August 4, 1929
  1. 1 with Friedrich Karl Arnold Schwassmann
  2. 2 with Luigi Carnera
  3. 3 with Paul Götz
  4. 4 with August Kopff
  5. 5 with Mario A. Ferrero

Maximilian Franz Joseph Cornelius Wolf (June 21, 1863 – October 3, 1932) was a German astronomer and a pioneer in the field of astrophotography. He was Chairman of Astronomy at the University of Heidelberg and Director of the Landessternwarte Heidelberg-Königstuhl observatory from 1902 to 1932.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Heidelberg, Germany on June 21, 1863, the son of a popular medical doctor, Dr. Franz Wolf. His father encouraged an interest in science and built an observatory for his son in the garden of the family home. It is from here that Wolf is credited with his first astronomical discovery, comet 14P/Wolf, in 1884.[1]

Life at the university[edit]

He attended the town's world famous university and, in 1888, at the age of 25, he was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of Heidelberg. He spent one year of post-graduate study in Stockholm, the only significant time he would spend outside of Heidelberg in his life. He returned to the University of Heidelberg and accepted the position of privat-docent in 1890. A popular lecturer in astronomy, he declined offers of positions from other institutions. In 1902 he was appointed Chair of Astronomy and Director of the new Landessternwarte Heidelberg-Königstuhl observatory. Positions he would hold until his death in 1932.[2]

The Bruce double astrograph at the Landessternwarte Heidelberg-Königstuhl

While the new observatory was being built Wolf was appointed to supervise the construction and outfitting of the astrophysics half of the observatory. He proved to be a not only a capable supervisor but also a successful money raiser. When sent to America to study the construction of the large new telescopes being built there he returned not only with telescope plans but also with a grant of $10,000 from the American philanthropist Catherine Wolfe Bruce. Wolf immediately designed and ordered a double refractor telescope from American astronomer and instrument builder, John Brashear. This instrument, known as the Bruce double-astrograph, with parallel 16 in (41 cm) lenses and a fast f/5 focal ratio, became the observatory's primary research telescope. He also raised money for a 28 in (71 cm) reflector telescope, the first for the observatory, used for spectroscopy.[3]

In 1910 Wolf proposed to the Carl Zeiss optics firm the creation of a new instrument, now known as the planetarium. World War I intervened before this could be developed, but the Carl Zeiss company resumed this project after peace was restored. The first official public showing was at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany on October 21, 1923.[4]

During his trip to America he was interested in learning more about the relatively new field of astrophotography and so he met the famous American astronomer and astrophotographer E.E. Barnard. The two would become lifelong correspondents, competitors, collaborators and friends. Wolf was clearly moved by the death of his friend in 1923 and wrote a long obituary.[5]

Later life and death[edit]

The University, already world renowned in many other fields, became well known for astronomy, due primarily to Wolf's leadership. Wolf himself was an active researcher, contributing numerous papers in many areas of astronomy up to the end of his life, which must have been sudden and unexpected. Like his friend, E. E. Barnard, he died rather young for an astronomer. He died in Heidelberg on October 3, 1932, at the age of 69. He was survived by his widow and three sons.[1]

Comets and novae[edit]

Wolf started his career as a comet hunter and continued to discover them throughout his life. He discovered or co-discovered several comets, including 14P/Wolf and 43P/Wolf-Harrington. He won a competition with E. E. Barnard on who would be the first to observe the return of Halley's Comet (P1/Halley) in April, 1910.[3]

He discovered or co-discovered four supernovae: SN 1895A (a.k.a. VW Vir), SN 1909A (a.k.a. SS UMa), SN 1920A, and, with Reinmuth, SN 1926A.

Dark nebulae[edit]

One of the many significant contributions Wolf made was in the determination of the nature of dark nebulae. These areas of the sky, thought since William Herschel's time to be "holes in the sky", were a puzzle to astronomers. In these areas no stars could be seen, only featureless black. In collaboration with E. E. Barnard, he proved, by careful photographic analysis, that these dark nebulae were actually huge clouds of fine opaque dust.[3]

Star catalog[edit]

Along with E. E. Barnard, Wolf applied astrophotography to the observation of stars. The Bruce double-astrograph was originally designed to hunt dim asteroids but it was found to be ideally suited for the study of the proper motion of low luminosity stars using much the same technique. In 1919 Wolf published a catalog of the locations of over one thousand stars along with their measured proper motion. These stars are still commonly identified by his name and catalog number.[6] Among the stars he discovered is Wolf 359, a dim red dwarf that was later found to be one of the nearest stars to our solar system.[7] He continued to add proper motion star discoveries to this catalog throughout his life, with the catalog eventually totaling over 1500 stars, many more than all of his competitors combined.[8] These stars are significant because stars with low luminosity and high proper motion, such as Barnard's Star and Wolf 359, are usually relatively close to the Earth and thus the stars in Wolf's catalog remain popular subjects for astronomical research to this day. The methods used successfully by E. E. Barnard and Wolf were continued with success by Frank Elmore Ross and George Van Biesbroeck up through the mid 20th century. Since that time photographic plates have been gradually replaced with more sensitive electronic photodetectors for astronomical surveys.

Asteroids[edit]

Wolf discovered his first asteroid 323 Brucia, named after Catherine Wolfe Bruce, in 1891. He pioneered the use of astrophotographic techniques to automate the discovery of asteroids, as opposed to older visual methods, as a result of which asteroid discovery rates sharply increased. In time-exposure photographs, asteroids appear as short streaks due to their planetary motion with respect to fixed stars. He discovered more than 200 asteroids in his lifetime.

Among his many discoveries was 588 Achilles (the first Trojan asteroid) in 1906, as well as two other Trojans: 659 Nestor and 884 Priamus. He also discovered 887 Alinda in 1918, which is now recognized as an Earth-crossing Amor asteroid (or sometimes classified as the namesake of its own Alinda family). Shortly after his last discovery (on February 6, 1932), his record 248 discoveries were beaten by his pupil Karl Wilhelm Reinmuth, on July 24, 1933.

Awards and honors[edit]

The crater Wolf on the Moon is named after him, as is the asteroid 827 Wolfiana.

Other astronomers named Wolf[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b MacPherson, H. (1932). "Obituary: Max Wolf". The Observatory 55: 355–359. Bibcode:1932Obs....55..355M. 
  2. ^ "Obituary Notices: Associates:- Wolf, Max". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 93: 236. February 1933. Bibcode:1933MNRAS..93..236.. doi:10.1093/mnras/93.4.236. 
  3. ^ a b c Tenn, Joseph S., (1994). "Max Wolf: The Twenty-Fifth Bruce Medalist". Mercury 23 (4): 27–28. 
  4. ^ Chartrand, Mark (September 1973). "A Fifty Year Anniversary of a Two Thousand Year Dream (The History of the Planetarium)". The Planetarian 2 (3) (International Planetarium Society). ISSN 0090-3213. Retrieved 2009-02-26 
  5. ^ Wolf, M. (April 1923). "Anzeige des Todes von Edward Emerson Barnard". Astronomische Nachrichten (in German) 218: 241. Bibcode:1923AN....218..241W. doi:10.1002/asna.19232181602. 
  6. ^ Wolf, M. (1919). "Katalog von 1053 staerker bewegten Fixsternen". Veroeffentlichungen der Badischen Sternwarte zu Heidelberg (in German) 7 (10): 195–219. Bibcode:1919VeHei...7..195W. 
  7. ^ Wolf, M. (July 1917). "Eigenbewegungssterne". Astronomische Nachrichten (in German) 204: 345. Bibcode:1917AN....204..345W. doi:10.1002/asna.19172042002. 
  8. ^ "Wolf". Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 

External links[edit]

Obituaries[edit]