Ernst Zinner

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Ernst Zinner
Born(1886-02-02)2 February 1886
Died30 August 1970(1970-08-30) (aged 84)
Alma materUniversity of Jena
University of Munich
Known forHistory of Astronomy
Scientific career
FieldsAstronomy, History of Science
InstitutionsRemeis Observatory

Ernst Zinner (2 February 1886 in Goldberg, Silesia – 30 August 1970) was a German astronomer and noted historian of astronomy. After studies in Munich and Jena he obtained his PhD in 1907 at the University of Jena, followed by stays at the University of Lund, the University of Paris, and the Königstuhl Observatory in Heidelberg. From 1 February 1910, Zinner worked as an assistant at Remeis-Observatory, Bamberg. Here, on 23 October 1913 he rediscovered the Comet Giacobini-Zinner, which had been previously discovered by Michel Giacobini in 1900. His main work during this time was on variable stars. After working as a meteorologist during World War I, Zinner returned to Bamberg, but then moved to Munich to work in geodesy. In 1924 Zinner received the professor's title from the University of Munich. He was appointed director of Remeis-Observatory in Bamberg, Germany, in 1926 and retired in 1956. During this time his main astronomical work centered on stellar astronomy. His main speciality and interest, however, was Renaissance Astronomy and the history of astronomical instruments, an area in which he started working in 1925. His obituaries quote a total of 9000 printed pages on this subject, with the most significant ones focusing on biographies and cataloguing early astronomical works and instruments.



  • The crater Zinner on the Moon is named after him.
  • Honorary doctorate of the University of Frankfurt
  • Honorary citizen of Königsberg in Franken
  • Leibniz Medal of the Prussian Academy of Sciences