Resolute and Undertaking Characters: The Lives of Wilhelm by A.H. Batten

By A.H. Batten

My curiosity within the heritage of the Struve kinfolk is long-standing yet lay dormant until eventually 1972, whilst i discovered myself organizing a symposium of the foreign Astronomical Union in reminiscence of the second one Otto Struve. to fulfill my very own interest, I investigated the perfect relationships of the recognized astronomers within the kin and released an account of them, established frequently on secondary assets. The workout made me a ware that there has been no biography in English of the 1st and doubtless nonetheless the best astronomer within the extended family -­ Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve. Wilhelm's son, the 1st Otto, wrote an account (in German) of his father's lifestyles, meant basically for kinfolk and shut acquaintances and --though printed-- now not usually on hand. throughout the kindness of a friend i've got a duplicate from which i've been in a position to paintings. The Soviet historian of technology, Z. okay. Sokolovskaya, wrote a biography in Russian, in 1964, to mark the centenary of Wilhelm's dying. This had a constrained variation, and my efforts to acquire a replica failed. Neither paintings has, in its entirety, been translated into English, even if Michael Meo of Oakland, California, and Kevin Krisciunas of Hilo, Hawaii, have kindly made on hand to me their unpublished translations of a few sections of the latter. within the of an entire replica, although, whilst i made a decision to aim an English­ absence language biography, i assumed it most sensible to take action independently of Sokolovskaya's.

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In the late eighteenth century, in Russia, to have a foreign tutor for one's children was something of a status symbol. Indeed, a generation earlier the Empress Elizabeth had found it necessary to define minimum qualifications for such positions 6 . Von Berg probably felt that he had found a bargain. Like many tutors and governesses, Wilhelm seems to have had a more privileged position in the household than other servants: in particular, von Berg 16 STUDENT DAYS AT DORPAT UNIVERSITY treated him as something of a favourite.

Even Friedrich and Wilhelm did not become intimate until many years later. By then, Wilhelm too was a noble and Friedrich, who left the University to fight Napoleon's 1812 invasion, had become a staff officer to General Pashkevich, suppressor of the Polish revolt of 1830 and (at Austria's request) of the Hungarian rebellion of 1848. The wonder is that Wilhelm made any progress in his studies at all. "Certainly" wrote Otto, his father's progress "was not the result of a very regular attendance at lectures"g.

Newton solved that problem in all its essentials, and observational astronomers, at least, were free to turn their attention to the fixed stars. Of the many astronomers who contributed to these developments, two have a special relevance to the life and work of Wilhelm Struve: James Bradley (1693-1762) the third Astronomer Royal of England and William Herschel (1738-1822). Both men attempted to measure stellar parallax, a measurement with which Wilhelm had a special concern (Chapter 8). Parallax is the small annual change in the apparent direction of a star that is the reflection of the Earth's orbital motion around the Sun.

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