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Brandes, Heinrich Wilhelm

Brandes, Heinrich Wilhelm

(b. Groden, near Cuxhafen, Germany, 22 July 1777; d. Leipzig, Germany, 17 May 1834)

astronomy, physics.

The son of a Protestant preacher, Albert Georg Brandes, Heinrich attended the grammar school in Ottendorf and studied natural sciences in Göttingen under A. G. Kästner and G. C. Lichtenberg. From 1801 to 1811 he was a dike official in Eckwarden near Jadebusen, duchy of Oldenburg, and in 1811 he was appointed professor of mathematics at Breslau. He became professor of physics at Leipzig in 1826.

As a student Brandes, with J. F. Benzenberg, developed the method of the corresponding observations of shooting stars. With its aid they determined the planetary velocity and the height, at the border of the atmosphere, of shooting stars. He also discovered the periodicity of the August meteorites. Later, Brandes occupied himself with practical and theoretical problems of the refractions of rays and other problems of atmospheric optics, as well as with the ory of comet tails. His books were widely read and contributed much to the popularization of astronomy.


I. Original Works. Among Brandes’ more technical writings are Versuche die Entfernung, die Geschwindigkeit und die Bahnen der Sternschnuppen zu bestimmen (Hamburg, 1800), written with J. F. Benzenberg; Beobachtungen und theoretische Untersuchungen über die Strahlenbrechung (Oldenburg, 1807); Beitrag zur Theorie der Cometenschweife (1812); Lehrbuch der Gesetze des Gleichgewichts und der Bewegung fester und flüssiger Körper (Leipzig, 1817–1818); and Beiträge zur Witterungskunde (Leipzig, 1820).

His popular works include Die vornehmsten Lehren der Astronomie deutlich dargestellt in Briefen an eine Freundin, 4 vols. (Leipzig, 1811–1816); and Unterhaltungen für Freunde der Physik und Astronomie, 3 vols. (1825–1829).

II. Secondary Literature. Additional works on Brandes are Poggendorff, I, 277–278; and H. Schröder, Lexikon der hamburgischen Schriftsteller, I (1851), 368, with a list of works.

Bernhard Sticker

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