Neuymin, Grigory Nikolaevich

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(b. Tiflis, Georgia [now Tbilisi, Georgian S.S.R.], 3 January 1886; d. Leningrad. U.S.S.R.; 17 December 1946)


Neuymin was the son of a military oculist-physician. In 1904 he graduated with a gold medal from the Second Tiflis Gymnasium and entered the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at St. Petersburg University. Among his teachers were the astronomers A. A. Ivanov and S. P. Glazenap, and the mathematician V. A. Steklov. He graduated with a first-class diploma in 1910 and remained in the department of astronomy to prepare for a scientific career. From 1908 he was an assistant at the Pulkovo Observatory, where he was directed by F. F. Renz (astrometry) and A. A. Belopolsky (astrospectroscopy). Under their direction Neuymin conducted his first scientific research and mastered the techniques of astronomical observation. His first published works dealt with the determination of the radial velocity of the star α Cygni (Deneb) and the photographic observations of the annular eclipse of 12 April 1912. In June 1910 Neuymin became supernumerary astronomer at Pulkovo Observatory. After working on stellar spectroscopy in the astrophysical laboratory he participated in the processing of observations with the great transit instrument and began to observe comets and double stars on the thirty-eight centimeter refractor.

In December 1912 Neuymin was sent as an adjunct astronomer to the recently created southern section of Pulkovo Observatory, at Simeiz, in the Crimea. Almost all his subsequent scientific work was associated with the Simeiz Observatory. In 1922 he returned for three years to Pulkvo, where he made observations with the seventy-six-centimeter refractor and made extensive computations of the final orbit of the comet Neuymin II, discovered by him in 1916. In 1924 the Scientific Council of Pulkovo Observatory elected him senior astronomer. The following year he returned to Simeiz as director of the observatory. In 1935 Neuymin was awarded a doctorate in the physical and mathematical sciences.

At Simeiz, Neuymin developed a broad program for the systematic search and photographic observation of comets and asteroids. With the help of a very modest 125-millimeter double astrograph the observatory soon held second place for the number of asteroids discovered there. Neuymin discovered sixty-three of the 110 numbered asteroids (those for which enough observations had been collected for the orbit to be calculated). About 400 others discovered at Simeiz were not numbered at that time. Widely known as the “comet hunter,” Neuymin discovered six comets, five of which were periodic, with periods from 5.4 to 17.9 years. The comet Neuymin II was especially interesting. Having computed its orbit and calculated the planetary perturbations, Neuymin obtained very precise ephemerides, with which the comet was rediscovered in 1927. Neuymin developed a special method of calculating higher-order terms for use in computing perturbations.

Neuymin discovered thirteen variable stars, including the bright variable X Trianguli, and developed a method for discovering short-period variables on photographic plates.

Neuymin’s work at Pulkovo included his measurements of double stars, micrometric measurements of the satellites of Neptune, and the determination of the proper motions of seventeen stars.

In connection with compiling a catalog of faint stars he selected and tested galaxies in order to attach the fundamental stars of the catalog to them.

In the fall of 1941, when the Simeiz Observatory was evacuated, Neuymin saved some of the valuable equipment and the archive of astronegatives. At Kitab, to which some of the observatory workers were sent, he continued his work on asteroids and his study of the comet Neuymin II. One of the asteroids he discovered was named Uzbekistan.

In 1944 Neuymin was named director of the Pulkovo Observatory, then in ruins. Charged with the difficult task of restoring and reorganizing the institution, he did not live to complete it. On 17 December 1946, exhausted by the evacuation and by the hard conditions of Central Asia, he died after a brief illness. Asteroid 1129 and a crater on the moon were named after him. In 1945 Neuymin was awarded the order of the Red Banner of Labor. His discoveries of comets were recognized by three prizes of the Russian Astronomical Society and six medals from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.


I. Original Works. Neuymin’s writings include “Sur les éléments et le prochain retour de la cométe Neujmin (1916 a),” in Astronomie, 35 (1921), 160–162; “Mikrometrennye izmerenia dvoynykh zvezd v Pulkove” (“Mieromctric Measurements of Double Stars at Pulkovo”), in Izvestiya Glavnoi astronomicheskoi observatorii v Puikove, 9, pt. 1, no. 88 (1923), 1–84; and “Vyvod sobstvennykh dvizhenii 17 zvezd” (“Definition of the Proper Motions of Seventeen Stars”), ibid., 10 , pt. 3, no. 96 (1925), 305–314.

On his research on the orbit of the comet Neuymin II see “Definitive Bahnbestimmung des periodischen Kometen 1916 II (Neujmin) aus der Erscheinung in Jahre 1916,” in Izvestiya Glavnoi astronomicheskoi observatorii v Pulkove, 10, pt. 6, no. 99 (1927), 531–584; “Svyaz poyavlenia komety v 1916 i 1926 gg. (1916 II–1927 I)” (“Relations of the Appearance of the Comet in 1916 and 1926 [1916 II–1927 I]”), in Tsirkulyar Glavnoi astronomiciwskoi observatorii v Pulkove (1941), no. 32, 25–61; and “Issledovanie orbity komety Neuymina 11” (“Research on the Orbit of the Comet Neuymin II”), in Izvestiya Glavnoi astronomicheskoi observatorii v Plikove, 17, pt. 6, no. 141 (1948), 6–23.

See also “On a Method of Discovering Short-Period Variables With Rapid-Changes in Brightness,” in Tsirkulyar Glavnoi astronomicheskoi observatorii v Pulkove (1932), no. 4, 22–24; “Rahochii katalog vnegalakticheskikh tumannostey dlya privyazki Kataloga slabykh zvezd” (“Working Catalog of Extragalactic Nebulae for Attachment to the Catalog of Faint Stars”), in Uchyenye zapiski Kazanskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, 100, bk. 4 (1940), 116–127; “Simeizskoe otdelenie Pulkovskoy observatorii za 25 let (1908–1933)” (“Simeiz Section of Pulkovo Observatory for 25 Years”), in Astronomicheskii Kalendar na 1934 god (“Astronomical Calendar for 1934”; Nizhny Novgorod, 1934), 115–137; “Ob uchete vozmushcheny vysshikh poryadkov pri vychislenii spetsialnykh vozmushcheny” (“On Taking Into Account Perturbations of Higher Orders in Calculating Special Perturbations”), in Astronomicheskii zhurnalII , pt. 2 (1934), 140–143; “Prostoy obiektivny mikrofotometr” (“Simple Objective Microphotometer”), in Qptiko-mekhanicheskaya promyshlennost (1936), no. 9, 22–23; and “Periodicheskaya kometa Neuymina II i ee predstoyashchee vozvrashchenie k perigeliyu v 1943 godu” (“Periodic Comet Neuymin II and Its Forthcoming Return to Perihelion in 1943”), in Astronomicheskii zhunal,20, pt. 1 (1943), 34–40.

II. Secondary Literature. See the unsigned obituary, “Grigory Nikolaevich Neuymin,” in Izvestiya Glavnoi astronomicheskoi observatorii v Pulkove, 17, pt. 6, no. 141 (1948), 1–3; N. I. Idelson, “Pamyati Grigoria Nikolaevicha Neuymina” (“Memories of… Neuymin”), in Astronomicheskii Kalendar na 1948 god (“Astronomical Calendar for 1948”; Gorky, 1947), 138-142; B. Yu. Levin, “G. N. Neuymin,” in Priroda (1948), no. 3, 86–87; and G. A. Shayn, “G. N. Neuymin,” in Izvestiya Krymskoi astrofiziclwskoi observatorii, 2 (1948), 136–138, with portrait.

P. G. Kulikovsky