Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve
(1793-1864)

 

German-born Russian astronomer, a pioneer in the observation of double stars and one of the first to measure stellar parallax, in 1830. He was the founder of a dynasty of astronomers that spanned four generations.
Struve was born in Altona, Schleswig-Holstein. To avoid conscription into the German army, he fled to Estonia and studied at Dorpat (now Tartu). He became professor there 1813, and director of the Dorpat Observatory 1817. In 1839 he became the first director of Pulkovo Observatory near St Petersburg, and was succeeded 1862 by his son Otto Wilhelm Struve.
Struve published a catalogue of about 800 double stars 1822, and instigated an extensive observational programme. The number of such stars known had increased to more than 3,000 by 1827. In addition, Struve described more than 500 multiple stars in a paper 1843.
In 1846 Struve published his observations of the absorption of stellar light in the galactic plane, which he correctly deduced to be caused by the presence of interstellar material.
Struve made significant contributions to geodesy with his survey of Livonia 1816-19 and his measurements of the arc of meridian 1822-27.


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