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Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander

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Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander
Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander
Born(1799-03-22)22 March 1799
Died17 February 1875(1875-02-17) (aged 75)
Alma materUniversity of Königsberg
AwardsGold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1863)
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorFriedrich Wilhelm Bessel

Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander (22 March 1799 – 17 February 1875) was a German astronomer. He is known for his determinations of stellar brightnesses, positions, and distances.

Life and work[edit]

Argelander was born in Memel in the Kingdom of Prussia (now Klaipėda in Lithuania), the son of a father of Finnish descent, Johann Gottlieb Argelander, and German (Prussian) mother, Dorothea Wilhelmina Grünhagen.[1] He studied with Friedrich Bessel, whose assistant he became in 1820,[2] and obtained his Ph.D. in 1822 at University of Königsberg. From 1823 until 1837, Argelander was the head of the Finnish observatory, first in Turku and then in Helsinki. He then moved to Bonn, Germany. There he designed and built a new observatory at the University of Bonn with funding approved directly by King Frederick William IV whom Argelander had become friends with in his childhood. This lifelong friendship had started when the then crown prince temporarily lived in Argelander's parents house after the Prussian royal family fled to Memel after the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt during the Napoleonic Wars.

Argelander excelled in developing effective, simple and fast methods for measuring star positions and magnitudes, thereby making a pioneering work for modern astronomy. He also measured star distances with heliometers. His, and his collaborators', great practical works of star cataloging and variable star research were made possible by the systematic usage of then newly developed techniques.[3]

Argelander was the first astronomer to begin a careful study of variable stars. Only a handful were known when he began, and he was responsible for introducing the modern system of identifying them.[4] He also made a rough determination of the direction in which the Sun was moving.

In 1842, he discovered that Groombridge 1830 had a very high proper motion. For many decades its proper motion was the highest known; today it still occupies third place. For a time, it was known as Argelander's Star.

Together with Adalbert Krüger and Eduard Schönfeld, Argelander was responsible for the star catalogue known as the Bonner Durchmusterung, published between 1859 and 1862, which gave the positions and brightness of more than 324,000 stars, although it did not cover much of the southern half of the sky. This was the last star map to be published without the use of photography.

In 1863, Argelander helped lead in the founding of an international organization of astronomers named the Astronomische Gesellschaft.

Honors and legacy[edit]

Portrait by Carl Peter Mazer (1837)

Further reading[edit]

  • Argelander, Friedrich Wilhelm (1822). Untersuchung über die Bahn des grossen Cometen vom Jahre 1811,[8] 4, Königsberg
  • Asimov, Isaac (1972). Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Doubleday & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-385-17771-2. (Parts of this article are based on this source.)
  • Sticker, Bernhard (1970). "Argelander, Friedrich Wilhelm August". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 240–243. ISBN 0-684-10114-9.

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Markkanen, Tapio (2007). "Argelander, Friedrich Wilhelm August". The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer Publishing. p. 58. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-30400-7_69. ISBN 978-0-387-30400-7. Retrieved June 14, 2023.
  2. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Argelander, Friedrich Wilhelm August" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 457.
  3. ^ "F. W. A. Argelander". Archived from the original on 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2008-05-20. (in German)
  4. ^ Chapman, David M. F. (February 1999). "Reflections: F.W.A. Argelander - Star Charts and Variable Stars". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 93: 17. Bibcode:1999JRASC..93...17C.
  5. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  6. ^ Index biographique des membres et associés de l'Académie royale de Belgique (1769-2005) p16
  7. ^ "Orden Pour le Mérite".
  8. ^ Tr. Research into the orbit of the great comet of the year 1811

External links[edit]