The Bruce Medalists


  portrait Photo courtesy Mary Lea Shane Archives, Lick Observatory
Carl Vilhelm Ludvig Charlier
1 April 1862 1933 Bruce Medalist 5 November 1934

Carl Charlier worked in his native Sweden: at the University of Uppsala, where he was educated and later lectured, at Stockholm Observatory, where he was an assistant for two years, and at the University of Lund, where he was observatory director for thirty years. After working in celestial mechanics, the calibration of photographic photometry, and the theory of lenses, he turned to statistics. He made contributions to pure statistics, especially the theory of errors, and made extensive statistical studies of the distribution and motions of stars in the solar neighborhood. He showed that the hotter stars and galactic clusters form a flattened system, but his neglect of interstellar absorption prevented him from realizing the true extent of the Galaxy. He is best known for proposing a hierarchical model of the universe. In his later years he became interested in the history of astronomy and translated Newton’s Principia into Swedish.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Trumpler, R.J., PASP 45, 5-14 (1933).

Other awards
National Academy of Sciences, James Craig Watson Medal, 1924.

Biographical materials
Svenskt Biografiskt Handlexikon (older, briefer edition) [in Swedish]
Tenn, Joseph S., “C.V.L. Charlier: The Twenty-eighth Bruce Medalist,” Mercury  24, 3, 40 (1995).

L[undmark], K[nut], MNRAS 95, 339-42 (1935).

on a medal

Named after him
Charlier series or Gram-Charlier series
Lunar crater Charlier
Martian crater Charlier
Minor Planet #8677 Charlier

More references

The Bruce Medalists

Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to