August Ferdinand Möbius

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August Ferdinand Möbius

August Ferdinand Möbius (born November 17, 1790 in Pforta , † September 26, 1868 in Leipzig ) was a German mathematician and astronomer at the University of Leipzig .


His father Johann Heinrich Möbius was a dance teacher in Schulpforte (formerly Schulpforta ). He died just three years after August Ferdinand was born. The mother Johanne Katharine Christiane Keil (1756-1820) was a descendant of Martin Luther .

In 1820 Möbius married Dorothea Christiane Juliane Rothe (born April 26, 1790 in Gera; † September 9, 1859 in Leipzig). The two had a daughter, Emilie Auguste (1822–1897) and two sons: August Theodor (1821–1890) and Paul Heinrich August (1825–1889). The daughter married the astronomer Heinrich Louis d'Arrest in 1851 . His grandchildren include the psychiatrist Paul Julius Möbius and the botanist Martin Möbius .


August Ferdinand Möbius attended the traditional Pforta State School based in his place of birth and passed his Abitur there. He first studied law before turning to studying mathematics at the University of Leipzig in the second semester from 1809 to 1814 . He did his doctorate under Johann Friedrich Pfaff on the subject of De computandis occultationibus fixarum per planetas , i.e. on calculation methods for the coverages of fixed stars by planets. In 1815 he completed his habilitation with astronomical work. A year later, on the recommendation of Carl Friedrich Gauß, he was appointed associate professor and observator at the Leipzig observatory . He was appointed director of the observatory in 1848. Since 1846 he was a member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences .


Möbius wrote numerous extensive treatises and writings on astronomy , geometry and statics . He made valuable contributions to analytical geometry, including a. with the introduction of homogeneous coordinates and the principle of duality . He is considered a pioneer in topology .

In 1846 he was one of the founders of the Royal Saxon Society of Sciences .


His most important works deal with the study of the interactions between geometry and mechanics :

  • The barycentric calculus: a new tool for the analytical treatment of geometry . Leipzig (1827)
  • Textbook of statics . 2 vols. Leipzig (1837)
  • The elements of the mechanics of heaven . Leipzig (1843) digitized

In addition, he contributed to the development of various areas of mathematics in numerous smaller articles. After him u. a. the Möbius geometry , the Möbius function , the Möbius transformation and the Möbius strip . A moon crater and the asteroid (28516) Möbius are also named after him.


  • Observations at the Royal University Observatory in Leipzig: with a description of the current facility of this observatory in advance, and an appendix with geometrical content . Cnobloch, Leipzig 1823 digitized
  • The true and the apparent orbit of Halley's comet on its return in 1834 clearly illustrated and generally comprehensible explained . Göschen, Leipzig 1834 digitized
  • The main principles of astronomy for use in his lectures for the educated . Göschen, Leipzig 1844 digitized


  • André Loh: August Ferdinand Moebius (1790–1868) - life and work. Dissertation, University of Leipzig 1995.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 170.