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Johann Elert Bode (January 19, 1747November 23, 1826) was a German astronomer known for his reformulation and popularization of the Titius-Bode law. Bode determined the orbit of Uranus and suggested the planet's name.

Johann Elert Bode


Bode was born in Hamburg. As a youth, he suffered from a serious eye disease which particularly damaged his right eye; he continued to have trouble with his eyes throughout his life.[1]

He began his career with the publication of a short work on the solar eclipse of 5 August 1766. This was followed by an elementary treatise on astronomy entitled Anleitung zur Kenntniss des gestirnten Himmels (1768, 10th ed. 1844), the success of which led to his being summoned to Berlin in 1772 for the purpose of computing ephemerides on an improved plan. There he founded, in 1774, the well-known Astronomisches Jahrbuch, 51 yearly volumes of which he compiled and issued.[2]

He became director of the Berlin observatory in 1786, from which he retired in 1825.[2] There he published the Uranographia in 1801, a celestial atlas that aimed both at scientific accuracy in showing the positions of stars and other astronomical objects, as well as the artistic interpretation of the stellar constellation figures. The Uranographia marks the climax of an epoch of artistic representation of the constellations. Later atlases showed fewer and fewer elaborate figures until they were no longer printed on such tables.

Bode also published another small star atlas, intended for astronomical amateurs (Vorstellung der Gestirne). He is credited with the discovery of Bode's Galaxy (M81). Comet Bode (C/1779 A1) is named after him; its orbit was calculated by Erik Prosperin.

From 1787 to 1825 Bode was director of the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut. In 1794, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In April, 1789 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.[3]

Johann Elert Bode

Bode died in Berlin on 23 November 1826, aged 79.
Selected writings
Section of a plate from Uranographia showing the constellation Orion

1768 (10th ed. 1844) Anleitung zur Kentniss des Gestirnten Himmels (The most famous of Bode's writings. In this work, he first announced Bode's law.)
1774-1957 Berliner Astronomisches Jahrbuch für 1776-1959 (The astronomical yearbook published by Berlin Observatory.)
1776 Sammlung astronomischer Tafeln (3 vols.)
1776 (3rd ed. 1808) Erläuterung der Sternkunde, an introductory book on the constellations and their tales, which was reprinted more than ten times
1782 Vorstellung der Gestirne ... des Flamsteadschen Himmelsatlas (Bode's revised and enlarged edition of Fortin's small star atlas of Flamsteed.)

Verzeichniss (Containing the above star atlas, and including 5,058 stars observed by Flamsteed, Hevelius, T. Mayer, de la Caille, Messier, le Monnier, Darquier and Bode himself.)

1801 Uranographia sive Astrorum Descriptio (A large star atlas illustrated with twenty copper plates.)

Allgemeine Beschreibung und Nachweisung der Gestirne (A star catalogue listing 17,240 stars.)

His works were highly effective in diffusing throughout Germany a taste for astronomy.[2]

^ "Johann Elert Bode (19 January 1747 - 23 November 1826)". Retrieved 2008-05-20.
^ a b c "Bode, Johann Elert". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.
^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 17 December 2010.

Further reading

Schwemin, Friedhelm (2006). Der Berliner Astronom. Leben und Werk von Johann Elert Bode (1747–1826). Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Harri Deutsch.- Acta Historica Astronomiae, Vol. 30 - A new, comprehensive biography and the source for some of the material on this page.
Sticker, Berhard (1970). "Bode, Johann Elert". In Gillispie, Charles Coulston. Dictionary of Scientific Biography. II. New York: Scribner. pp. 220–221

External links

AtlasCoelestis.com: Vorstellung der Gestirne by J.E. Bode, 1782 - last retrieved on Sep 7, 2007,
AtlasCoelestis.com: Uranographia, Berlino 1801 - last retrieved on Sep 7, 2007,
Brief Biography of Bode
Bode's 'Complete Catalog of hitherto observed Nebulous Stars and Star Clusters,' 1779, with links to his deep sky observations and discoveries.
Vorstellung der Gestirne, Berlin und Stralsand : Bey Gottlieb August Lange. 1782. - Full digital facsimile, Linda Hall Library.
Vorstellung der Gestirne, Berlin und Stralfund ; bey Gottlieb August Lange. 1805. - Full digital facsimile, Linda Hall Library.
Vorstellung der gestirne da www.atlascoelestis.com
Uranographia, Berlino 1801, colorato a mano da www.atlascoelestis.com
Anleitung zur Kenntniss des Gestirnten Himmels, Berlin 1788 da www.atlascoelestis.com
Von dem neuen zwischen Mars und Jupiter entdeckten achten Hauptplaneten des Sonnensystems, Berlin, Himburg, 1802 da www.atlascoelestis.com


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