Lindenau, Bernhard August von

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Lindenau, Bernhard August von

(b. Altenburg, Germany, 11 June 1779; d. Altenburg, 21 May 1854)


Lindenau was the son of Johann August Lindenau, a regional administrator (Landschaftsdirektor). He began the study of law and mathematics at Leipzig in 1793; and beginning in 1801 he worked at the astronomical observatory directed by F. X. von Zach located at Seeberg, near Gotha. For this purpose he procured a leave of absence from government service. Following Zach’s departure (1804) Lindenau became temporary, and in 1808 official, director of the Gotha observatory. There he also was editor of the important technical journal Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmelskunde. In 1816, after a temporary absence required by the “War of Liberation” against Napoleon, Lindenau founded, with J. G. F. von Bohnenberger, the Zeitschrifi für Astronomie und verwandte Wissenschaften. In 1818 he was forced to return to the civil service. His successor at Gotha was J. F. Encke.

Lindenau rapidly advanced from vice-president of the AJtenburg board of finance to chief minister of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1820). Later he became minister of the interior of Saxony. In 1848 he was elected to the Frankfurt Parliament. His political activity was comparable with the reforming efforts of Baron Karl vom und zum Stein in Prussia.

An art collector, during his lifetime he established a museum in Altenburg, today known as the Staatliche Lindenau-Museum, which contains one of the most important collections of early Italian panel painting.

Aside from his editorial activity (and considerable assistance in the publication of Besse’s Fundamenta Qstronomiae), Lindenau’s importance for astronomy lies mainly in the tables of planets he produced for the calculation of the ephemerides of Mercury, Venus, and Mars. He also published improved values for the constants of aberration and nutation, as well as papers on the history of astronomy. Regrettably, however, astronomy represented only an episode in his life.


I. Original Works. Many of Lindenau’s publications are listed in J. G. Galle, ed., Register zu von Zach’s Monatlicher Corresponded zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmetskunde (Gotha, 1850), pp. 104-105. Among his writings are Tabulae Martis novae et correctae ex theoria grapitatis cl. De la Place et ex observationibus recentissimis in specula astronomica Seebergensi habitis erutae (Gotha, 1810); Tabulae Mart is novae et eorrectae ex theoria gravi-tatis cl, De la Place et ex observationibus recentissimis erutae (Eisenberg, 1811); Investigatio nova orbitae a Mercurio circa solem descriptor cum tahulis planetae (Gotha, 1813); and “Beitrag zur Geschichte der Neptuns-Ent-deckung,” in Ergäuzungsheft zu “Astmnomische Nachrichten” (Altona, 1849), pp. 1-32.

II. Secondary Literature. Biographies are P, von Ebart, Bernhard August v. Lindenau (Gotha, 1896); F. Volger, Bernhard von Lindenau (Altenburg, n.d.); and Pasch, “Lindenau;” in Allgemein Deutsche Biographic, XVIII (Leipzig, 1883), 681-686. On his political activity, see G. Schmidt, Die Staatsreform in Sachsen in der ersten Hdlfte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Weimar, 1966), especially pp. ll0 ff. Lindenau as an art collector is discussed in H. C von der Gabelentz and H. ScherF, Das Staatliche Lindenau-Museum, seine Geschichte, seine Sammlungen (Altenburg, 1967).

On Lindenau’s scientific work, see W. Gresky, “Aus Bernhard v, Lindenaus Briefen an C. F. Gauss,” in Mitteilungen der Gauss-Gesellsehaft, no. 5 (1968), 12-46; D. B. Herrmann, “Lindenaus Abschied von der Astronomic,” in Die Sterne, 42 (1966), 66-72; and “Bernhard August von Lindenau und die Herausgabe der Fundamenta astronomiae von F, W. Bessel,” in Vorträge unci Schriften der Archenhold-Stemwarte Beriin-Treptow, no. 20 (1968); and F. Lessig, “Der Astronom Bernhard von Lindenau,” in Abhaudhmgen des Naturkwtdlichen Museums “Mauritimum” Altentburg, 2 (1960), 29-34.

Dieter B. Herrmann

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Lindenau, Bernhard August von

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