Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters

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Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters
ChristianHFPeters.jpg
Born(1813-09-19)September 19, 1813
DiedJuly 18, 1890(1890-07-18) (aged 76)
NationalityGermanAmerican
Known forasteroids
Scientific career
Fieldsastronomy
InstitutionsHamilton College
Signature
Signature CHF Peters.png

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.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

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.[3] Besides asteroids, he co-discovered the periodic comet 80P/Peters–Hartley, and also discovered various nebulae and galaxies.[citation needed]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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."[1]

Honors[edit]

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).[2] 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).[6]

List of discovered minor planets[edit]

Between 1861 and 1889, C. H. F. Peters discovered 48 asteroids at Litchfield Observatory (789) at Hamilton College, New York, where he enjoyed the title "Litchfield professor of astronomy".[1][3]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sheehan, William. "Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters – A Biographical Memoir" (PDF). National Academy of Science (PDF). Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b "100007 Peters (1988 CP4)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Minor Planet Discoverers (by number)". Minor Planet Center. 28 October 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  4. ^ "At War about the Stars," The New York Times (February 1, 1889)
  5. ^ Simon Newcomb, The Reminiscences of an Astronomer, (Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1903), p. 372-381
  6. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 13 February 2019.

External links[edit]