Viktor Knorre

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Viktor Knorre
Victor Knorre.jpg
Born Viktor Karlovich Knorre
(1840-10-04)4 October 1840
Nikolayev, Russian Empire
Died 25 August 1919(1919-08-25) (aged 78)
Berlin, Germany
Organization University of Berlin, Berlin Observatory
Known for Discovered Koronis and three other minor planets
Parent(s) Karl Friedrich Knorre

Viktor Karlovich Knorre Russian: Виктор Карлович Кнорре(4 October 1840 – 25 August 1919) was a Russian astronomer of German ethnic origin. He worked in Nikolaev, Pulkovo and Berlin and is best known for having discovered 158 Koronis and three other minor planets. Knorre's father, Karl Friedrich Knorre, and grandfather, Ernst Friedrich Knorre, were also prominent astronomers. Recently NASA named an asteroid in honor of the three generations of Knorre astronomers.[1]

Biography and family background[edit]

Knorre was born into a three-generation astronomer family.[2] His grandfather, Ernst Friedrich Knorre (1759–1810),[3] had moved from Germany to Dorpat (now Tartu, Estonia) where he worked (1803–10) as Observator for the Dorpat observatory (opened in 1802) and professor of Mathematics at the University of Dorpat. Victor Knorre's father, Karl Friedrich Knorre (1801–1883),[3] set up and was director of the Nikolayev Astronomical Observatory starting in 1827.

Viktor was born the fifth of fifteen children in Nikolayev (now Mykolayiv, Ukraine). He moved to Berlin in 1862 to study astronomy[4] with Wilhelm Julius Foerster. He worked at Pulkovo Observatory in 1867 as an astronomical calculator[5] and then at Berlin Observatory, where his father moved circa 1871.


From 1873, he was observer at the Berlin Observatory. Knorre discovered four asteroids.[6] He did not teach students at the University of Berlin; instead he gave introductions into the use of the telescopes of the Observatory. In 1892 he was appointed Professor of Astronomy. Knorre took an interest in the improvement of astronomical equipment, and published papers on an improved equatorial telescope mount, referred to as the "Knorre & Heele" mount.[4]

Minor planets discovered: 4        
158 Koronis January 4, 1876
215 Oenone April 7, 1880
238 Hypatia July 1, 1884
271 Penthesilea October 13, 1887

Chess master[edit]

Knorre was also known as a strong chess player, playing among others against Adolf Anderssen, Gustav Neumann and Johannes Zukertort. He took part in several chess tournaments during the 1860s.[7][8]

In the Two Knights Defense the Knorre variation (ECO code C59) is named after him. It follows the main line of the Two Knights defense for the first ten moves, and is characterized by the moves 10. Ne5 Bd6 11. d4 Qc7 12. Bd2.[9] The Knorre variation of the Open defense in the Ruy Lopez, characterized by the move 6. Nc3, is also named after Knorre.[10]


  1. ^ "Asteroid named after the three generations of Knorre Astronomers". California Institute of Technology: Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 
  2. ^ Hockey, Thomas (2009). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-387-31022-0. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "21knorre". 1919-08-25. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  4. ^ a b Pinigin, Gennady. "Abstract of The Astromonical Dynasty of Knorre, a paper given at JENAM 2008 astronomical conference in Vienna". University of Vienna. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  5. ^ Batten, Alan Henry (1988). Resolute and Undertaking Characters. Astrophysics and Space Science Library 139. Springer. p. 17. ISBN 978-90-277-2652-0. 
  6. ^ "Minor Planet Discoverers". 2002-03-12. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  7. ^ Name Index to Jeremy Gaige's Chess Tournament Crosstables, An Electronic Edition, Anders Thulin, Malmö, 2004-09-01
  8. ^ "Chessmetrics Player Profile: Victor Knorre". 
  9. ^ " Two knights defence, Knorre variation (ECO: C59)". 
  10. ^ " Ruy Lopez, Open, Knorre variation (ECO: C80)". 

External links[edit]