Harding, Carl Ludwig

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Harding, Carl Ludwig

(b. Lauenburg, Germany, 29 July 1765; d. Göttingen, Germany, 31 August 1834)


Harding studied theology at Göttingen from 1786 to 1789, while also attending the mathematics and physics lectures given by A. G. Kästner. After completing his studies he served as a probationary minister in Lauenburg. Like many young men holding such a position Harding became a private tutor in 1796, when Kästner and others recommended him to Chief Magistrate A. H. Schröter, who had a private observatory at Lilienthal, near Bremen. It was well equipped for the time, with astronomical instruments constructed by Herschel, Peter Dollond, and Schröter himself.

In its short period of activity Schröter’s observatory had a high reputation. The best observations of the great planets during that time were made at Lilienthal, mostly by Harding. Olbers often visited it, in 1800 with Zach. The Vereinigte Astronomische Gesellschaft which was established there included foreign scientists. This new society intended primarily to make star charts. This aim was realized only by Harding, who drew up a celestial atlas containing about 60,000 stars; this stellar chart was one of the first prepared according to scientific principles. While working on this star chart Harding discovered (1804) the third asteroid and named it Juno Georgia, to honor George III. Perhaps partly as a result of this he was transferred to the new Göttingen observatory and from 1805 was professor of practical astronomy there. While at Göttingen he observed planets, comets, and variable stars. He also discovered three comets: 1813 II, 1824 II, and 1832 II.

Harding participated in Encke’s Akademische Sternkarten and was among the first to finish his part, hour 15-16. The first twelve volumes of Astronomische Nachrichten contain many short notes on his observations.


Harding’s works include Atlas novus coelestis, 7 vols. (Göttingen, 1808-1823); Zach’s Monatliche Korrespondenz zur Beförderung der Erd-und Himmelskunde, 21 (1810); “Hora XV,” in Akademische Sternkarten (Berlin, 1830); and Kleine astronomische Ephemeriden for 1831-1835 (Göttingen, 1830-1834), written with G. Wiesen. There are many short notices in Monatliche Korrespondenz and Astronomische Nachrichten. See Poggendorff, I, cols. 1016-1017.

A secondary source is H. A. Schumacher, Die Lilienthaler Sternwarte (Bremen, 1889).

H. C. Freiesleben

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