Freimut Börngen

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Freimut Börngen (born October 17, 1930 in Halle ) is a German astronomer .


Börngen attended secondary school in Halle during the time of the Soviet occupation zone and took his Abitur there in 1951 - during the GDR (1949–1989). He studied physics at the Martin Luther University . After a brief activity in the field of medicine, Nikolaus Richter called him to the Karl Schwarzschild Observatory (today: Thuringian State Observatory ) in Tautenburg , where he worked until his retirement in 1995. Since his retirement he has been working as a freelancer for the State Observatory. He has been widowed since 2010, he has two children, both musicians: Cornelia, freelance cellist in Berlin , and Tobias, church musician in Magdeburg .


Börngen explored galaxies with the Schmidt mirror of the Karl Schwarzschild observatory. He became a member of Commission 28 (Galaxies) of the IAU. He discovered over 500 asteroids (as of December 2005). Initially, he had to evaluate the photo plates for traces of asteroids in his spare time, as the search for minor planets did not seem prestigious enough for the GDR science managers. During the GDR era, he limited himself to politically neutral names, so u. a. on themes from Thuringia, famous scientists or composers, including (2424) Tautenburg , (3245) Jensch , (3181) Ahnert , (4134) Schütz or (3941) Haydn . After the fall of the Berlin Wall , Börngen increasingly and systematically turned his name to historical, cultural, scientific and geographical terms and even honored well-deserved amateur astronomers with individual names. Examples: (5224) Abbe , (23578) Baedeker , (8853) Gerdlehmann , (11496) Grass , (11547) Griesser , (13086) Sauerbruch , (16438) Knöfel , (19126) Ottohahn , (19136) Strassmann and (52334) Oberammergau .

A number of the asteroids discovered in Tautenburg bear the names of resistance fighters against Nazi oppression, such as (7256) Bonhoeffer , (7571) Weisse Rose , (8171) Stauffenberg and (11075) Dönhoff . Names such as (17496) Augustinus , (19263) Lavater , (27764) Von Flüe and (96205) Ararat document a keen interest in topics related to the history of religion.

Freimut Börngen has earned a reputation beyond Germany's borders with his carefully worked out justifications for the asteroid names.


In 1997, the Styrian state government awarded Freimut Börngen the Great Decoration of Honor of Styria in the White Hall of Graz Castle ; he gave about 40 planetoids names related to Austria.

In 2006 he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on ribbon by the then Federal President Horst Köhler .

In November 2007 he received the friendship cup of the state of Salzburg from the governor of Salzburg, Gabi Burgstaller, and the Franz Xaver Gruber prize from the city of Hallein . Background of the latter award: In 2004 Börngen honored the composer of the world-famous Christmas carol Silent Night together with the lyricist Joseph Mohr by naming the asteroid (65675) Mohr-Gruber .

The International Astronomical Union honored him years ago with the asteroid (3859) Börngen , which was discovered by Edward LG Bowell at the Anderson Mesa Station of the Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff , Arizona .

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