Struve, Georg Otto Hermann

views updated


(b. Pulkovo, Russia, 29 December 1886; d. Berlin, Germany, 10 June 1933), astronomy.

Struve was born at Pulkovo while his father, Karl Hermann Struve, was adjunct astronomer there. He was taken to Königsberg in 1895, when the elder Struve was appointed director of the observatory of that university, and attended the Königsberg Gymnasium, from which he graduated in 1905. He then studied at the universities of Heidelberg and Berlin; in 1910 he was awarded the Ph.D. for a dissertation entitled Die Darstellung der Pallasbahn durch die Gausssche Theorie für den Zeitraum 1903 bis 1910, which he had dedicated to the memory of his grandfather Otto Struve. During the next two years he worked as an assistant at the Bonn Observatory, in his father’s observatory in Berlin, and at the Bergedorf Observatory, then, in 1913, became astronomer at the Wilhelmshaven naval observatory, where he was placed in charge of chronometers and compasses. In the last post he utilized his spare time and the observatory’s meridian circle (made by Repsold) to make observations of Saturn and its satellites, an interest that he shared with his father.

Beginning in 1917 Struve published some ten works on Saturn, including one on the determination of its equator and the orbits of its satellites (1917), an analysis of observations performed by other researchers (1918), an observation of periodic disappearance of some of its rings (1921), the results of observations of its ring system that he had carried out in South America (1927), and a comparison of the results of both visual and photographic observations of its satellites (1928). This work was summarized in five issues of the sixth volume of the Veröffentlichungen der Universitätssternwarte zu Berlin-Babelsberg, published between 1924 and 1933. Struve had begun working as an observer at that observatory in 1919; he became professor there in 1929, and held that post until his death.

In addition to his work on Saturn, Sturve also observed the eclipse of Jupiter’s satellites and measured the diameter of Venus, applying the theory of contrasts to determine its irradiation. Toward the end of his career he also made observations of Uranus and its satellites, Oberon and Titania, and studied other minor planets, especially Eros, of which an opposition occurred in 1930–1931. He supplemented his data with those that he collected on visits to the Johannesburg Observatory in South Africa, and to the Lick and Yerkes observatories in the United States.


I. Original Works. The most complete bibliography of Struve’s works (26 titles) is Poggendorff, V, 1224; and VI, 2570–2571. His most important writings are Die Darstellung der Pallasbahn durch die Gausssche Theorie für den Zeitraum 1903 bis 1910 (Berlin, 1911); “Neue Elemente der inneren Saturnstrabanten,” in Abhandlungen der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Math.-Naturwiss. Kl. (1918), no. 1; and “Neue Untersuchungen im Saturn System,” in Veröffentlichungen der Universitätssternwarte zu Berlin-Babelsberg, 6 , no. 4 (1930), 82.

II. Secondary Literature. There are obituaries by J. Dick, in Vierteljahrsschrift der Astronomischen Gesellschaft, 69 (1934), 2–8; and by P. Guthnick, in Astronomische Nachrichten, 251 , no. 6003 (1934), 47.

Z. K. Sokolovskaya