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Bessel, Friedrich Wilhelm

Born: 1784 AD
Died: 1846 AD, at 61 years of age.

Nationality: German
Categories: Astronomers, Mathematicians


1784 - Born on the 22nd of July in Minden, Germany. German astronomer whose measurements of positions for about 50,000 stars allowed the first accurate determination of interstellar distances; he was the first to measure the distance of a star other than the Sun.

1799 - At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to the import-export concern Kulenkamp.

         - He left school to become an apprentice to the commercial firm of Kulenkamp in Bremen.

1804 - Calculated the orbit of Halley's comet from observations made by Thomas Harriot.

         - Bessel wrote a paper on Halley's comet, calculating the orbit using data from observations made by Harriot.

1805 - Became assistant in J. H. Schröters observatory at Lilienthal.

1806 - He accepted the post of assistant at the Lilienthal Observatory, a private observatory near Bremen.

1807 - He began to work on reducing James Bradley's observations of the positions of 3222 stars made around at Greenwich.

1809-1810 - Bessel was appointed director of Frederick William III of Prussia's new Königsberg Observatory and professor of astronomy.

1812 - He was elected to the Berlin Academy.

1813 - Acted as director in the observatory at Königsherg.

1821 - He observed all stars to the ninth magnitude in zones.

1824 - Developer and eponym of Bessel functions.

1825 - He was honored by election as a Fellow of the Royal Society.

1826 - Corrected the length of the seconds' pendulum.

1829 - Awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal with William Pearson and Heinrich Christian Schumacher.    

1831-1832 - Measured an arc of the meridian in East Prussia.

1838 - His ascertainment of a parallax figure for the "Flying Star" 61 Cygni.

1841 - Received the Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal.

1844 - Announced the binary character of Sirius and Procyon from their disturbed proper motions.

1846 - He died at Königsberg on the 17th of March in Königsberg, Prussia.


Page last updated: 4:06pm, 06th Aug '07