Struve, Karl Hermann (or Hermann Ottovich)

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(b Pulkovo, Russia, 30 October 1854; d. Neubabelerg, near Potsdam, Germany, 12 August 1920)


Hermann Struve received his early education in the Gymnasiums of Karlsruhe (during the winter of 1862–1863) and Vyborg; he took his final examinations in Reval (now Tallin, Estonian S.S.R.) and, in 1872, entered the University of Dorpat. After graduating from the university in 1877 he was admitted to Pulkovo Observatory, where he had passed his childhood. He was then sent to Paris, Strasbourg, Berlin, and Graz to further his education. In Graz, he worked under Boltzmann, who directed his dissertation, “Fresnels Interferenzerscheinungen; theoretisch und experimentell Bearbeitet,” which he wrote in the summer of 1881 and submitted to the University of Dorpat soon thereafter. The following year he received the doctorate in astronomy from Dorpat with a study entitled “Über den Einfluss der Diffraktion an Fernröhren auf Lichtscheiben.”

In 1874 Struve took part in B. Hasselberg’s expedition to eastern Siberia and to the port of Posyet to observe the transit of Venus. In 1877 he became part-time astronomer at Pulkovo; in 1883 he was made adjunct astronomer; and from 1890 until 1895, he served as senior astronomer. Among the works that he published during this tenure, “Bestimmung der Elemente von Japetus und Titan aus der Verbindung dieser Satelliten untereinander” represents an exposition of his method for the micrometric measurement of the satellites of Saturn. He also made thorough investigations of Neptune, Mars, and Jupiter, observed double stars, and wrote a number of theoretical articles on optics.

In 1895, perhaps influenced by his father’s move to Germany upon his retirement, Struve accepted a post as director of the observatory at the University of Königsberg. His most importment work, “Beobachtungen der Saturnstrabanten am 30zölligen Pulkowaer Refractor,” published in 1898, draws upon the data that he had obtained in his earlier post, and contains, among other things, a list of all the basic constants of Saturn’s ring system. Most of Struve’s later work on Saturn represents developments of the concepts he presented there.

Struve was awarded the Damoiseau Prize by the Paris Académie des Sciences in 1897 and received the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1903. In 1904 he was appointed director of the Berlin-Babelsberg Observatory, and from 1913 until his death he was director of the Neubabelsberg Observatory, which he had helped to found.

Struve was married to Olga Struve, the daughter of his father’s cousin. Of their twin sons, one, Georg, also became an astronomer.


I. Original Works. The most complete bibliography of Struve’s works (60 titles) is in Poggendorff, III, 1308; IV, 1457–1458; and V, 1225. They include “Bestimmung der Elemente von Japetus und Titan aus der Verbindung dieser Satelliten untereinander,” in Astronomische Nachrichten, 111 (1885), 1–10; “Beobachtungen der Saturnstrabanten. Abt. I. Beobachtungen am 15-zölligen Refractor,” in Observations de Poulkova, supp. 1 (1888); “Beobachtungen des Neptunstrabeanten am 30-zölligen Pulkowaer Refractor,” in Mémoires de l’Académie imperiale des sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, 7th ser., 42 , no. 4 (1894); “Beobachtungen der Saturnstrabanten am 30-zölligen Pulkowaer Refractor,” in Publications de l’Observaknre central (Nicolas) á Poulkova, 2nd ser., 11 (1898); “Mikrometermessungen von Doppelstenen, ausgefuhrt am 30-zölligen Refractor zu Pulkowa,” ibid., 12 (1901); and Die neue Berliner Sternwarte in Babelsberg (Berlin, 1919).

II. Secondary Literature. There are obituaries of Struve by F. S. Archenhold. Geh. Reg.-Rat. in Weltall, 21 , nos. 5–6 (1920), 35–36; B. Wanach, in Vierteljahrsschrift der Astronomischen Gesellschaft, 56 (1921), 4–12; and L. Courvoisier, in Astronomische Nachrichten, 212 (1921), 33–38.

Z. K. Sokolovskaya