Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters
Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters
|Died||July 18, 1890 (aged 76)|
Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters (September 19, 1813 – July 18, 1890) was a German–American university teacher and astronomer at the Litchfield Observatory of Hamilton College, New York, and a pioneer in the study and visual discovery of asteroids. His name is often given as C. H. F. Peters.
He was born in Koldenbüttel in Schleswig, then part of Denmark but later part of Germany, and later studied under Carl Friedrich Gauss. Peters spoke many languages and gravitated to Italy at the time of the Italian unification. His association with radical groups brought him to the attention of authorities, and he fled to the Ottoman Empire, where he became a government advisor. At the suggestion of the resident U.S. consul, he emigrated to the United States in 1854.
Working at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York (near Utica), he was a prolific discoverer of asteroids, discovering 48 of them, beginning with 72 Feronia in 1861 and ending with 287 Nephthys in 1889. Besides asteroids, he co-discovered the periodic comet 80P/Peters–Hartley, and also discovered various nebulae and galaxies.
He was involved in litigation in 1889 with his former assistant Charles A. Borst, and the "Great Star-Catalog Case" Peters v. Borst went before the Supreme Court of New York. The judge sided with Peters, but many astronomers and newspapers sided with Borst. Peters died not long after. Following his death, the judgment was ultimately reversed on appeal and a new trial was ordered, but it never took place. The eminent astronomer Simon Newcomb devotes a chapter in his memoirs to Peters, as an object lesson in how great scientific talent and poor ethical standards may coexist in a single individual.
He died July 18, 1890 in Utica. Historian William Sheehan notes, "Peters was found lying, a half-burned cigar at his fingertips, on the doorstep of the building where he lodged; observing cap on his head, he had fallen in the line of duty, on the way to the observatory the night before."
Main-belt asteroid 100007 Peters, discovered by Eric Walter Elst at La Silla Observatory in 1988, was named in his memory, based on a suggestion by French amateur astronomer Michel-Alain Combes (born 1942). The asteroid measures approximately 7.5 kilometers in diameter and belongs to the carbonaceous Alauda family. The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 5 January 2015 (M.P.C. 91792).
List of discovered minor planets
|72 Feronia||29 May 1861||list|
|75 Eurydike||22 September 1862||list|
|77 Frigga||12 November 1862||list|
|85 Io||19 September 1865||list|
|88 Thisbe||15 June 1866||list|
|92 Undina||7 July 1867||list|
|98 Ianthe||18 April 1868||list|
|102 Miriam||22 August 1868||list|
|109 Felicitas||9 October 1869||list|
|111 Ate||14 August 1870||list|
|112 Iphigenia||19 September 1870||list|
|114 Kassandra||23 July 1871||list|
|116 Sirona||8 September 1871||list|
|122 Gerda||31 July 1872||list|
|123 Brunhild||31 July 1872||list|
|124 Alkeste||23 August 1872||list|
|129 Antigone||5 February 1873||list|
|130 Elektra||17 February 1873||list|
|131 Vala||24 May 1873||list|
|135 Hertha||18 February 1874||list|
|144 Vibilia||3 June 1875||list|
|145 Adeona||3 June 1875||list|
|160 Una||20 February 1876||list|
|165 Loreley||9 August 1876||list|
|166 Rhodope||15 August 1876||list|
|167 Urda||28 August 1876||list|
|176 Iduna||14 October 1877||list|
|185 Eunike||1 March 1878||list|
|188 Menippe||18 June 1878||list|
|189 Phthia||9 September 1878||list|
|190 Ismene||22 September 1878||list|
|191 Kolga||30 September 1878||list|
|194 Prokne||21 March 1879||list|
|196 Philomela||14 May 1879||list|
|199 Byblis||9 July 1879||list|
|200 Dynamene||27 July 1879||list|
|202 Chryseïs||11 September 1879||list|
|203 Pompeja||25 September 1879||list|
|206 Hersilia||13 October 1879||list|
|209 Dido||22 October 1879||list|
|213 Lilaea||16 February 1880||list|
|234 Barbara||12 August 1883||list|
|249 Ilse||16 August 1885||list|
|259 Aletheia||28 June 1886||list|
|261 Prymno||31 October 1886||list|
|264 Libussa||22 December 1886||list|
|270 Anahita||8 October 1887||list|
|287 Nephthys||25 August 1889||list|
- Sheehan, William. "Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters – A Biographical Memoir" (PDF). National Academy of Science (PDF). Retrieved 13 February 2019.
- "100007 Peters (1988 CP4)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
- "Minor Planet Discoverers (by number)". Minor Planet Center. 28 October 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
- "At War about the Stars," The New York Times (February 1, 1889)
- Simon Newcomb, The Reminiscences of an Astronomer, (Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1903), p. 372-381
- "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 13 February 2019.