The Bruce Medalists


Portrait Photo1884, courtesy Mary Lea Shane Archives, Lick Observatory
Georg Friedrich Julius Arthur von Auwers
12 September 1838 1899 Bruce Medalist 24 January 1915

Born and educated in Göttingen, Arthur Auwers began his career at Königsberg, Germany [now Kaliningrad, Russia], where he learned to use the heliometer and earned his doctorate. He served as secretary of the Berlin Academy from 1866 to 1915. During this period he made trips to Patagonia to observe the transit of Venus and to the Cape of Good Hope to assist with the observations of David Gill. Auwers’s life work was making extremely precise catalogs of stellar positions and motions. He made completely new reductions of James Bradley’s 18th century Greenwich observations and began a project of unifying all of the world’s catalogs from 1750 on, a task not completed until 1966. He computed the orbits of the Sirius and Procyon systems before the faint companions to the bright stars were seen, and he redetermined the distance to the sun several times, making use of transits of Venus and an approach of a minor planet. Not averse to the new astronomy, he helped found the Potsdam Astrophysical Observatory.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Aitken, R. G., PASP 11, 61-70 (1899).

Other awards
Government of Germany, Order Pour le Merite for Arts and Sciences, 1892.
National Academy of Sciences, James Craig Watson Medal, 1891.
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1888, presented by J.W.L. Glaisher, MNRAS 48, 236-51 (1888).
Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, Bradley Medal, 1913.

Some offices held
Astronomische Gesellschaft, President, 1881-88.

Biographical materials
Oliveira, Ednilson, Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (Springer, NY, 2007), pp. 71-72.
Plicht, Chris, Auwers, Arthur
Sticker, Bernhard, Dictionary of Scientific Biography 1, 339-40.
Tenn, Joseph S., “Arthur Auwers: The Second Bruce Medalist,” Mercury 19, 2, 49 (1990).
Wempe, J., “Arthur Auwers als Astronom der Berliner Akademie,” Sternzeiten 2, 17-28 (1977).
Zinner, Ernst, Neuen Deutschen Biographie, 1, pp. 462-63 [in German].

Aitken, R.G., Science 41, 495-97 (1915).
Dyson, F.W., Observatory 38, 177-81 (1915).
E[ddington], A.S., MNRAS 76, 284-89 (1916).
Seeliger, H., Astr. Nach. 200, 185-90 (1915) [in German].
More obituaries

Steinicke, Wolfgang

Named after him
Lunar crater Auwers
Minor Planet #11760 Auwers

More references

The Bruce Medalists

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