Lohse, Wilhelm Oswald

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Lohse, Wilhelm Oswald

(b. Leipzig, Germany, 13 February 1845; d.Potsdam, Germany, 14 May 1915)


Lohse, the son of a tailor, attended schools in his native town and then, in 1859-1862 took the preliminary courses of the engineering college in Dresden. In the latter year he entered the University of Leipzig to study chemistry, and in 1865 he received the Ph.D. After some years of practical technical activity at Salzmunde, near Halle, and at Leipzig, he was interested in astronomy by Vogel, who at this time became director of the private observatory of the Kammerherr von Bülow at Bothkamp, near Kiel. Vogel engaged Lohse as a collaborator. Both men made spectroscopic observations; Lohse concentrated on solar observation and celestial photography, for which he prepared the plates himself. In 1874 Vogel and Lohse moved to the new astrophysical observatory at Potsdam, where Lohse worked for more than forty years—from 1882 as observer and from 1901 as head observer. Soon after his arrival Lohse installed the chemical and photographic workrooms and laboratories. At the Berlin observatory he observed Nova Cygni1876 spectroscopically. In 1877, continuing his solar observations at Potsdam, Lohse had the necessary instruments constructed. At the same time he observed Jupiter and Mars. A little later he made photographs of stars and star clusters, and in 1899 he began photographing double stars. By comparing photographs made within twenty-five years Lohse tried to drive proper motions of faint stars; and through investigations of metallic spectra he contributed to the increased accuracy of spectroscopic measurements, using both prisms and a Rowland concave grating.

After the death of Vogel in 1907, Lohse headed the astrophysical observatory for two years, until advanced age and melancholia led him to resign. He was still healthy, however, and worked in his private workshop and in his garden until the end of 1914, when his health began to fail rapidly. At his death in May 1915 Lohse left his wife, two sons, and two daughters.


Lohse’s books include Meteorologische und astronomische Beobachtungen in Bothkamp1871-1873, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1872-1874); and Tafel für numerisches Rechnen mit Maschinen (Leipzig, 1909). The following articles appeared in Potsdamer astrophysikalische Publikationen: “Physische Beschaffenheit des Jupiter, Beobachtungen des Mars” (1882), 1-76; “Abbildungen von Sonnenflecken” nebst Bemerkungen über astronomische Zeichnungen” (1883), 1-109; “Heliograph”(1889), 1-15;“Beobachtungen des Mars,” 8 (1889), 1-40; “Beobachtungen des südlichen Polarflecks des Mars und der Elemente des Mars und der Elemente des Mars-Äquators,” 11 (1898), 1-25; “Funkenspektren einiger Metalle,” 12 (1902), 1-208; “Doppelsterne,” 20 (1909), 1-168; and “Physische Beschaffenheit des Jupiter,” 21 (1911), 1-11.He also published many short noted in Astronomische Nachrichten, vols. 82, 83, 85, 96, 97, 111, 115, 142, 146, and 165

An obituary by P. Kempf is in Vierteljahrsschrift der Astronomischen Gesellschaft(1915), 160-169.

H.-Christ. Freiesleben