Otto Wilhelm von Struve
Otto Wilhelm von Struve (May 7, 1819 (Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

: April 25) – April 14, 1905) was a Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

. In Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, his name is normally given as Otto Vasil'evich Struve (Отто Васильевич Струве). Together with his father, Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve
Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve
Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve was a Danish-Baltic German astronomer from a famous dynasty.-Life:...

, Otto Wilhelm von Struve is considered a prominent 19th century astronomer who headed the Pulkovo Observatory
Pulkovo Observatory
The Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory астрономи́ческая обсервато́рия Росси́йской акаде́мии нау́к), the principal astronomical observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, located 19 km south of Saint Petersburg on Pulkovo Heights...

 between 1862 and 1889 and was a leading member of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Academy of Sciences
The Russian Academy of Sciences consists of the national academy of Russia and a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation as well as auxiliary scientific and social units like libraries, publishers and hospitals....


Early years

Struve was born in 1819 in Dorpat (Tartu)
Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia. In contrast to Estonia's political and financial capital Tallinn, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural hub, especially since it is home to Estonia's oldest and most renowned university. Situated 186 km southeast of Tallinn, the...

, then Russian Empire, as the third son out of eighteen sons and daughters of Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve and Emilie Wall (1796–1834). He graduated from a Dorpat gymnasium at the age of 15 and was one year too young by the university rules. Yet, he was admitted to the Imperial University of Dorpat
University of Tartu
The University of Tartu is a classical university in the city of Tartu, Estonia. University of Tartu is the national university of Estonia; it is the biggest and highest-ranked university in Estonia...

 as a listener and completed the program by the age of 20. While studying, he was assisting his father at the Dorpat Observatory
Tartu Observatory
The Tartu Observatory is the largest astronomical observatory in Estonia. It is located on the Tõravere hill, about 20 km south-west of Tartu in Nõo Parish, Tartu County...

. In 1839, he graduated from the university and moved to the newly opened Pulkovo Observatory, where he was immediately appointed as assistant of the director (his father). For his initial observations, he was given the degree of Master of Astronomy by the University of St. Petersburg in 1841. In 1842, he visited Lipetsk
Lipetsk is a city and the administrative center of Lipetsk Oblast, Russia, located on the banks of the Voronezh River in the Don basin, southeast of Moscow.-History:...

 for observations of the solar eclipse
Solar eclipse
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun as viewed from a location on Earth. This can happen only during a new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth. At least...

 and in 1843 defended his PhD. In 1843 Otto formally adopted Russian nationality.

Scientific work

During 1843 and 1844, Struve participated in longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

 measurements between Altona
Altona, Hamburg
Altona is the westernmost urban borough of the German city state of Hamburg, on the right bank of the Elbe river. From 1640 to 1864 Altona was under the administration of the Danish monarchy. Altona was an independent city until 1937...

, Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

 and Pulkovo, which were based on large displacement of chronometers over the Earth surface. This newly developed method was adopted in Russia, and from 1844, the longitude was measured starting not from the Tartu Observatory but from the Pulkovo Observatory. Much of the 1844 Struve dedicated to studying the Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

. He deduced its apex coordinates and linear velocity as 7.3 km/s. Although it was significantly smaller than the correct value of 19.5 km/s measured in 1901, Struve's result was correct in that the velocity of the Sun was smaller than that of stars.

Struve continued his father's work in several directions. In particular, they compiled famous Pulkovo catalogues of stellar coordinates
Star catalogue
A star catalogue, or star catalog, is an astronomical catalogue that lists stars. In astronomy, many stars are referred to simply by catalogue numbers. There are a great many different star catalogues which have been produced for different purposes over the years, and this article covers only some...

, including several thousands double star
Double star
In observational astronomy, a double star is a pair of stars that appear close to each other in the sky as seen from Earth when viewed through an optical telescope. This can happen either because the pair forms a binary star, i.e...

s observed with a 15-inch refractor. Between 1816 and 1852, the observatory completed the famous survey triangulation measurements of the angular arc
Meridian arc
In geodesy, a meridian arc measurement is a highly accurate determination of the distance between two points with the same longitude. Two or more such determinations at different locations then specify the shape of the reference ellipsoid which best approximates the shape of the geoid. This...

 (named Struve Geodetic Arc
Struve Geodetic Arc
The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820 km, which yielded the first accurate measurement of a meridian....

). The measurements extended through over 2,820 km, from Hammerfest
is a city and municipality in Finnmark county, Norway. The municipality encompasses parts of three islands: Kvaløya, Sørøya, and Seiland. Hammerfest was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838...

 in Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 to the Staraya Nekrasovka village by the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, and aimed to establish the exact size and shape
Reference ellipsoid
In geodesy, a reference ellipsoid is a mathematically-defined surface that approximates the geoid, the truer figure of the Earth, or other planetary body....

 of the Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

. In 1851, while observing a solar eclipse, he came to a conclusion that solar corona and protuberances are physically connected with the Sun and are not an optical effect, as most of astronomers believed. Later in 1860 he suggested a close connection between solar protuberances and flares. Struve also observed satellite
Natural satellite
A natural satellite or moon is a celestial body that orbits a planet or smaller body, which is called its primary. The two terms are used synonymously for non-artificial satellites of planets, of dwarf planets, and of minor planets....

s of Uranus
Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. It is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus , the father of Cronus and grandfather of Zeus...

Ariel (moon)
Ariel is the brightest and fourth-largest of the 27 known moons of Uranus. Ariel orbits and rotates in the equatorial plane of Uranus, which is almost perpendicular to the orbit of Uranus, and so has an extreme seasonal cycle....

 and Umbriel
Umbriel (moon)
Umbriel is a moon of Uranus discovered on October 24, 1851, by William Lassell. It was discovered at the same time as Ariel and named after a character in Alexander Pope's poem The Rape of the Lock. Umbriel consists mainly of ice with a substantial fraction of rock, and may be differentiated into a...

, in 1851) and of Neptune
Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times...

. He also measured the rings of Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

 and discovered (in parallel with other researchers) the dark inner ring of Saturn
Rings of Saturn
The rings of Saturn are the most extensive planetary ring system of any planet in the Solar System. They consist of countless small particles, ranging in size from micrometres to metres, that form clumps that in turn orbit about Saturn...

. In 1861, in his report to the Academy of Sciences, he had supported and developed the ideas of William Herschel
William Herschel
Sir Frederick William Herschel, KH, FRS, German: Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel was a German-born British astronomer, technical expert, and composer. Born in Hanover, Wilhelm first followed his father into the Military Band of Hanover, but emigrated to Britain at age 19...

 that stars are formed from the diffuse matter
Interstellar medium
In astronomy, the interstellar medium is the matter that exists in the space between the star systems in a galaxy. This matter includes gas in ionic, atomic, and molecular form, dust, and cosmic rays. It fills interstellar space and blends smoothly into the surrounding intergalactic space...

. In 1872, Struve organized assistance with equipment to the newly opened observatory in Tashkent
Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and of the Tashkent Province. The officially registered population of the city in 2008 was about 2.2 million. Unofficial sources estimate the actual population may be as much as 4.45 million.-Early Islamic History:...

 – a southern location offering clear skies for observations. In 1874, he prepared several expeditions to monitor the transit of Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

 across the solar disk in eastern Asia, Caucasus, Persia and Egypt. In 1887, he sent several groups within Russia to observe the solar eclipse. In some of those expeditions, he took part personally. In 1885, a 30-inch refracting telescope
Refracting telescope
A refracting or refractor telescope is a type of optical telescope that uses a lens as its objective to form an image . The refracting telescope design was originally used in spy glasses and astronomical telescopes but is also used for long focus camera lenses...

 was installed at Pulkovo, at the time the largest in the world (see great refractor
Great refractor
Great refractor refers to a large telescope with a lens, usually the largest refractor at an observatory with an equatorial mount. The preeminence and success of this style in observational astronomy was an era in telescope use in the 19th and early 20th century. Great refractors were large...



Around 1845, von Struve's father withdrew from most management activities at the Pulkovo Observatory and focused on individual research. From then on, most of administrative duties fell on von Struve, especially in 1858 when his father was gravely ill. With his father's retirement in 1862, Otto officially became director and kept that position for 27 years until 1889. In the mid 1860s, the son's health deteriorated as well, to the point that neither he nor his physician hoped for recovery. However, instead of retiring, von Struve spent a full winter on leave in Italy and managed to restore his health.

Struve remained a top authority at the Russian Academy and his requests, e.g. regarding staff appointments were always granted. The first refusal, in 1887, disappointed Struve so much that he applied for resignation and was stopped from that only by the Tsar Alexander III, who requested Struve to keep his posts until the 50th anniversary of the Pulkovo Observatory in 1889.

For most of those years, the working language of the Pulkovo Observatory was German, as the staff members were largely foreigners. Struve had only limited command of Russian, yet he used it whenever possible.

Visit to the United States

Otto was the first scientist of the Struve family to visit United States (in 1879: New York, Chicago and San Francisco). The visit served several purposes, including ordering the Alvan Clark & Sons
Alvan Clark & Sons
Alvan Clark & Sons was an American maker of optics that became famous for crafting lenses for some of the largest refracting telescopes of the 19th and early 20th centuries...

 optics for the new 30-inch telescope in Pulkovo, and it was a part of long-term Russia-US astronomy partnership during the 19th century. Within that collaboration, many American astronomers stayed at Pulkovo for observations and exchanged data with Russian scientists by mail. By the initiative of Struve, two US astronomers, Simon Newcomb
Simon Newcomb
Simon Newcomb was a Canadian-American astronomer and mathematician. Though he had little conventional schooling, he made important contributions to timekeeping as well as writing on economics and statistics and authoring a science fiction novel.-Early life:Simon Newcomb was born in the town of...

 and Asaph Hall
Asaph Hall
Asaph Hall III was an American astronomer who is most famous for having discovered the moons of Mars in 1877...

 were appointed as Foreign Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Personal life and late years

Struve was married twice. His first wife was a daughter of German emigrants Emilie Dyrssen (1823–1868). They had four sons and two daughters who reached mature age. A few years after her death, Struve married Emma Jankowsky (1839–1902) and had another daughter with her. Two of his younger sons, Hermann Struve
Hermann Struve
Karl Hermann Struve was a Russian astronomer. In Russian, his name is sometimes given as German Ottovich Struve or German Ottonovich Struve ....

 and Ludwig Struve
Ludwig Struve
Gustav Wilhelm Ludwig Struve was a Russian astronomer, part of the famous Baltic German Struve family. In Russian, his name is sometimes given as Lyudvig Ottovich Struve or Lyudvig Ottonovich Struve .-Biography:Gustav Wilhelm Ludwig Struve was born in 1858 in Tsarskoye Selo – a former...

, continued the traditions of the Struve family and became distinguished astronomers. Of the older sons, one served at the Ministry of Finances and another was geologist. After retirement in 1889, Otto Wilhelm Struve stayed mostly in St. Petersburg, summarizing his observations and keeping correspondence with colleagues. He occasionally visited Switzerland and Italy. During his 1895 trip to Germany, he fell ill to the point of abandoning any further travel. He stayed in Germany and died in 1905 in Karlsruhe
The City of Karlsruhe is a city in the southwest of Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, located near the French-German border.Karlsruhe was founded in 1715 as Karlsruhe Palace, when Germany was a series of principalities and city states...


Awards and honors

Struve won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
-History:In the early years, more than one medal was often awarded in a year, but by 1833 only one medal was being awarded per year. This caused a problem when Neptune was discovered in 1846, because many felt an award should jointly be made to John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier...

 in 1850 for his work on "The Determination of the Constant of Precession with respect to the Proper Motion of the Solar System" published in 1840 . He was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...

. Between 1852 and 1889, he was also a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Academy of Sciences
The Russian Academy of Sciences consists of the national academy of Russia and a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation as well as auxiliary scientific and social units like libraries, publishers and hospitals....

 and became an academician
The title Academician denotes a Full Member of an art, literary, or scientific academy.In many countries, it is an honorary title. There also exists a lower-rank title, variously translated Corresponding Member or Associate Member, .-Eastern Europe and China:"Academician" may also be a functional...

 in 1856. The asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 768 Struveana
768 Struveana
768 Struveana is a minor planet orbiting the Sun. The asteroid was named jointly in honor of Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve, Otto Wilhelm von Struve and Karl Hermann Struve.-External links:*...

 was named in honor of Otto Wilhelm, Friedrich Georg Wilhelm and Karl Hermann Struve; and a lunar crater
Struve (crater)
Struve is the lava-flooded remains of a lunar impact crater. It is located near the western extreme of the Oceanus Procellarum, close to the western lunar limb...

 was named for another 3 astronomers of the Struve family
Struve family
The Struve family were a dynasty of five generations of astronomers from the 18th to 20th centuries. Members of the family were also prominent in chemistry, government and diplomacy.-Origins:...

: Friedrich Georg Wilhelm
Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve
Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve was a Danish-Baltic German astronomer from a famous dynasty.-Life:...

, Otto Wilhelm and Otto
Otto Struve
Otto Struve was a Russian astronomer. In Russian, his name is sometimes given as Otto Lyudvigovich Struve ; however, he spent most of his life and his entire scientific career in the United States...

. The Struve Geodetic Arc
Struve Geodetic Arc
The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820 km, which yielded the first accurate measurement of a meridian....

 was included to the World Heritage List in 2005.

Further reading

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.