Albrecht, Carl Theodor

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Albrecht, Carl Theodor

(b. Dresen, Germany, 30 August 1843; d. Potsdamd, Germany, 31 August 1915)

surveying, astronomy.

Albrecht’s father, Friedrich Wilhelm Albrecht, and both grandfathers were soap boilers. Indeed, his maternal grandfather, Christian Friedrich Pohle, was a senior official of the soap boilers’ guild of Dresden. Carl, however, did not continue the family tradition. His parents recognized the boy’s intelligence, and set him on quite another path in that era when technology and exact the sciences flowered. As a student his major fields were mathematics and the natural sciences, but he occupied himself independently with astronomy and meterology. About 1865, after passing his examinations at the Polytechnicum in Dresden, which at that time was an engineering school, Albrecht studied astronomy at the University of Leipzig in order to follow his special inclinations and to enlarge his theoretical knowledge.

From 1866 on, Albrecht was an assistant in the central European degree measurement project while continuing his studies. In 1869 he graduated from Leipzig and was immediately accepted at the newly founded Geodetic Institute in Potsdam, an indication that he already had a good scientific reputation. In 1873 he was appointed director of the astronomy department of the Geodetic Institute, a post he held until his death. In 1875 he became professor; in the same year he married Marie Stiemer.

The Geodetic Institute quickly became one of the leading research institutes in astronomy and geodesy. From 1895 on, Albrecht also directed the International Latitude Service, a cooperative group of various research institutes in many countries that sought the precise determination of the geographic degree of latitude.


I. Original Works. Albrecht published a large number of scientific writings, most of which appeared in various astronomical and geodetic journals. The most notable are “Über die Bestimmung von Längendifferenzen mit Hilfe des elektrischen Telegraphen” (Leipzig, 1869), his dissertation; “Genauigkeit der telegraphischen Ortsbestimmung,” in Astronomische Nachricheten, 89 (1877); “Ausgleichungen des deutschen Längenbestimmungsnetzes,” ibid., 95 (1879); “Provisorische Resultate der Beobachtungsreihen Berlin, Potsdam und Prag betr. der Veränderlichkeit der Polhöhe,” in Internationale Erdmessung, Publikationen (Berlin, 1890); “Stand der Erforschung der Breitenvariation,” in Internationale Erdmessung, Verhandlungen (Berlin, 1894–1896); “Bestimmung der Längendifferenz Potsdam–Pulkovo im Jahre 1901,” ibid. (Berlin, 1901); “Bestimmung der Längendifferenz Potsdam–Greenwich im Jahre 1903,” ibid. (Berlin, 1904); “Bestimmung der Polhöhe und des Azimutes in Memel im Jahre 1907. Telegraphische Lägenbestimmung Potsdam–Jena, Jena–Gotha und Gotha–Göttingen im Jahre 1909,” ibid. (Berlin, 1910); and “Ergebnisse der Breitenbeobachtungen auf dem Observatorium in Johannesburg von Mäz 1910 bis Mäz 1913. Bearbeitet von Theodor Albrecht,” ibid. (Berlin, 1915). For the Astronomisch-geodätische Arbeiten für die Gradmessung im Königreich Sachsen he wrote the third section, “Die astronomischen Arbeiten” (Berlin, 1883–1885). He also wrote Formeln und Hilfstafeln für geographische Ortsbestimmungen (Leipzig, 1869; 1873; 5th ed., Berlin, 1967).

II. Secondary Literature. Obituary notices with curriculum viate are A. Galle, in Viertelijahresschrift der Astronomischen Gesellschaft, 50 (1915), 170–175 and F.R. Helmert, in Astronomische Nachrichten, 201 (1915), 269. A short biography in Hans-Ulrich Sandig, in Neue deutsche Biographie, I (1953), 183.

Hans BaumgÄrtel

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Albrecht, Carl Theodor

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