Heinrich Christian Schumacher

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Heinrich Christian Schumacher ( lithograph by F. Ausborn after a painting by Christian Albrecht Jensen )

Heinrich Christian Schumacher (born September 3, 1780 in Bramstedt , † December 28, 1850 in Altona / Elbe ) was a German astronomer and geodesist . He founded the Altona observatory and the first celestial specialist journal, Astronomische Nachrichten .

Childhood and youth

The son of the bailiff Andreas Schumacher was at the age of seven from his father to the Danish King Friedrich VI. - who was also Duke of Holstein in personal union. Schumacher benefited from this acquaintance repeatedly in the course of his later life. After his father's death, his mother moved with him to Altona in 1790, where he went to school with the Holstein topographer Johann Friedrich August Dörfer . Through him and Jacob Struve , mathematician and director of the Altona high school Christianeum , which Schumacher attended from 1794 to 1799, he first came into contact with surveying and celestial science.

Heinrich Christian Schumacher around 1823, lithograph by Otto Speckter (1853)

After studying law at the Universities of Kiel and Göttingen , he taught law as a lecturer in 1805 at the University of Dorpat (now Tartu in Estonia ). The mathematician and director of the local observatory, Prof. Johann Wilhelm Andreas Pfaff , introduced him to mathematics and astronomy; After his return he studied both subjects with a royal scholarship at the Universities of Copenhagen and Göttingen.

From law to astronomy

In Göttingen, Carl Friedrich Gauß was his teacher, who inspired Schumacher for geodesy . After the one-year scholarship expired, they visited well-known astronomers and mathematicians together: ( Olbers , Schroeter , Bessel ). During his frequent stopovers in his native Altona, Schumacher had also made friends with Johann Georg Repsold , whose observatory in Hamburg he had regularly used since 1808.

In 1810 Schumacher became associate professor of astronomy in Copenhagen, in 1813 director of the Mannheim observatory and in 1815 full professor of astronomy in Copenhagen. From there, however, he immediately returned to Altona to work on behalf of Frederick VI. from 1817 to carry out the geodetic survey of the meridian from Skagen to Lauenburg / Elbe , which was continued by Gauß through the Kingdom of Hanover and thus connected to the European network.

In 1820 he was commissioned by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences in Copenhagen to measure Holstein and map the results.

Altona Observatory and Astronomical News

baroque house by HC Schumacher (center)

In 1821 Schumacher bought a house on the Altonaer Palmaille , in which he set up his own institute, the Altona observatory . In addition to an annual budget for his employees, a royal privilege also included the assurance that he would be allowed to live and research in Altona until his death. Several distant triangular points could be seen from the small oriels of the building on the high bank of the Elbe ; the garden was meridian circle of Reichenbach set up, mounted the Repsold and fitted out with its own improved Ableseniveau. The pole height of the meridian circle was determined with 53 ° 32 '45 ", its eastern longitude from Paris with 30' 25" "in time" (cf. Altona meridian ).

In 1823, at the suggestion of the Danish Minister of State Johannes von Mösting , Schumacher began to publish the Astronomical News , which considerably promoted communication between experts and scholars. Contributions by Gauß, Bessel, Rümker, Olbers, Encke , Airy , C. and W. Herschel quickly made the magazine, which is still in existence today, the mouthpiece of astronomy.

Schumacher and his colleagues, namely his longtime observer and successor Adolph Cornelius Petersen , determined a. a. In 1824 the difference in length between Altona and Greenwich through a "chronometer expedition", carried out measurements in 1829/30 at Gut Güldenstein in Holstein with a seconds pendulum constructed by Repsold , measured the route for the railway line between Altona and Kiel , which was opened in 1844, and took the Hamburg city area after great fire in 1842 trigonometrically . In 1822 he became a member ( Fellow ) of the Royal Society of Edinburgh . Since 1824 he was a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg . In 1831 Schumacher was elected to the Académie des Sciences and in 1834 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . In 1835 he was elected a foreign member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences .

Heinrich Christian Schumacher also dealt with the problem of the differences in astronomical time between different locations as early as the 1840s and determined an artificial mean time for the timetables of the Altona-Kieler Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft ( King Christian VIII. Ostseebahn ) - a good 40 years ago the International Meridian Conference and half a century before the introduction of Central European Time .

Schumacher's last years

This activity, but also increasingly problems with Christian VIII , the successor to his patron who died in 1839 on the Danish throne, led to a deterioration in his health.

During the Schleswig-Holstein uprising (1848–1850), enemy soldiers camped in front of the Altona house of the official loyal to the king; he himself was under house arrest and was only allowed to participate privately in the astronomical news .

Gravestone in the Heilig-Geist-Kirchhof in Hamburg-Altona

Schumacher died on December 28, 1850 with numerous orders and awards (including the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society awarded to him in 1829 ) and as a member of numerous important scientific academies.

His Altona observatory was in operation until 1872, the building only fell to rubble in 1941; the astronomical news is still there today. In the Altona old town , Schumacherstrasse has been a reminder of him since 1868. His grave is in the former Heilig-Geist-Kirchhof at the Behnstraße exit of the Königstraße S-Bahn station and by the monument to the Altona meridian .

The Schumacher lunar crater was named after him in 1935.





Web links

Wikisource: Astronomical Treatises  - Sources and Full Texts
Wikisource: Astronomical News  - Sources and Full Texts
Wikisource: Yearbook: for ...  - sources and full texts
Commons : Heinrich Christian Schumacher  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Bernd Elsner: The register of the Christianeum 1738-1850 . Verlag Verein für Hamburgische Geschichte, Hamburg 1998; P. 127 (listed as no. 581)
  2. ^ Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, Volume 18. Leipzig 1909, p. 77 ; Schumacher's letters to Gauß of October 11 and 21, as well as December 4, 1829 and May 7, 1830, correspondence, 2nd volume, Altona 1860, p. 213 books.google , 215, 220, 249. The communicated on October 11, 1829 “Latitude 54 ° 13 '” leaves no doubt that, contrary to the assumption in Meyer's Grosser Konversations-Lexikon, it could not have been the Gyldensteen estate located at 55 ° 34' N east of Bogense .
  3. The length of the simple seconds pendulum on the Güldenstein Castle, from the observations made under the direction of Schumacher, derived by CAF Peters. In Astronomische Nachrichten No. 937, Vol. 44 Hammerich & Lesser, Altona 1855
  4. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. (PDF file) Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed April 6, 2020 .
  5. ^ List of members since 1666: Letter S. Académie des sciences, accessed on February 27, 2020 (French).
  6. 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. 220.
  7. ↑ Among other things, winners of the following awards: Grand Cross of the Dannebrogorden (June 28, 1847), Red Eagle Order II. Class with diamonds, Stanislaus Order III. Class, Legion of Honor , St. Anna Order II. Class, Officer of the Belgian Order of Leopolds : Royal Danish Court and State Calendar for the leap year 1848 , Altona, p. 22.
  8. Schumacher had already been awarded the Dannebrogorden (in a lower order class) in 1819: 1819, 23 February, 4th class, Riddere, Kongelig dansk hof- og statskalender. 1826. Carl Friderich Schubart, Kiobenhavn, p. 39 digitized
  9. Knights of the North Star Order : Gustav Adolph Jahn: Heinrich Christian Schumacher , p. 26