Bessel, Friedrich Wilhelm
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