Cuno Hoffmeister

Cuno Hoffmeister ( born February 2, 1892 in Sonneberg, † January 2, 1968 ) was a German astronomer and geophysicist.

His main area of ​​research was the variable stars, of which about 10,000 Hoffmeister discovered and explored together with its employees; these are almost a quarter of the known up to 2010 stars with brightness variations. To this end, he founded the mid-1920s the Sonneberg Observatory and developed the long-term research programs " Sonneberg fields plan" (Field patrol ) and " Sonneberg sky monitoring" (Sky patrol ) for observation and photographic monitoring and research of variable stars, meteors and extragalactic objects. Under his leadership, the observatory in Sonneberg was until the late 1960s, the world's leading institution in this special field of astronomy.


Cuno Hoffmeister was born in Sonneberg in the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, the son of a toy manufacturer. Even as a child he was fascinated by the stars and when he had given 13 years in a telescope, he began to observe more closely the events in the night sky. However, the high school diploma and a science degree were initially denied because he was to take over his father's factory, using professional training him. Nevertheless, he continued the visual sky observations as self-taught and found in 1914 compliance with its own discoveries in the field of variable stars. When the doll factory came to a halt during the First World War, he was awarded from 1915 to 1918, the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant at the Dr. Remeis Observatory in Bamberg. In 1920 he got addition to the academic activities after the Abitur. Until the mid- 20s, he studied astronomy, mathematics and physics at the University of Jena and began with her own photographic images of the sky the project: " Sonneberg fields plan for the study of variable stars in the northern Milky Way ." At the same time he built with the support of his hometown, the Sonneberg Observatory on the Erbisbühl in Neufang district to which he was appointed director in 1926. Cuno Hoffmeister followed with the concept of " Sonneberg sky monitoring" an excitation Paul Guthnicks, the beginning of the 1920s at the University Observatory in Berlin -Babelsberg brought the establishment of a systematic photographic sky monitoring for discussion. His work as a scientist was special recognition in the professional world, as his contribution on the relationship between comets and meteors from 1922 was included in the Encyclopedia of Mathematical Sciences.

1930 and 1933 undertook Cuno Hoffmeister two longer research trips in the Caribbean Sea. When the city of Sonneberg due to the global economic crisis had become insolvent, the Sonneberg Observatory was for financial reasons in 1930 the Prussian state lease and taken over entirely by him in 1931 and thus the University Observatory in Berlin -Babelsberg affiliated as a branch. Between 1937 and 1960, Cuno Hoffmeister held for the exploration of the southern sky several times a long time in South Africa and Namibia, where today reminds donated by the Hobbyastronomin Sonja Itting - sink " Cuno Hoffmeister Memorial Observatory " near Windhoek at him. In 1936 he became a member of the "German Academy of Natural Scientists " ( Leopoldina ). To be relieved because of the increasing Nazi influence and the danger of his office, he joined the NSDAP in 1937. Thus, he received, among other things sufficient freedom of action to offer Paul Ahnert protection from further persecution. The Friedrich Schiller University of Jena in 1943 awarded him the title of professor. Due to its successful work the Sonneberg Observatory was taken over in 1946 as an independent institution by the " German Academy of Sciences in Berlin " (now Berlin- Brandenburg Academy of Sciences) and Cuno Hoffmeister as Head, was appointed director of the research institute later. In 1951 he was awarded the National Prize of the GDR in 1960 and appointed as a member of the "Saxon Academy of Sciences".

Through the photographic sky monitoring under the Sonneberg fields plan Sonnenberg has become a term in astronomy. Therefore His hometown Sonnenberg awarded him an honorary citizen in 1964 and named a street after him. However, this honor through the city were increasing disabilities and difficulties over to state political level that threatened the existence of the observatory and thus also a part of his life's work. Since 13 August 1961, the city Sonnenberg was in the GDR border exclusion zone. The observatory was therefore become virtually inaccessible to foreign visitors and not more presentable by the communist regime in the international research operations. With his authority as an internationally recognized scientists Cuno Hoffmeister was able to resist the suggestion to shift his research institute from Sonneberg to other places for several years successfully. The conflict escalated at an academy reform in the summer of 1967, when the scientific director of the observatory was taken from him. Worried about the future of the Sonneberg Observatory Cuno Hoffmeister died a month before his 76th birthday in Sonneberg. In his memory was 1970, the International Astronomical Union ( IAU) to the lunar craters with the coordinates " 15 ° 12 ' N / 136 ° 54' O ' the name Hoffmeister.


  • Meteors, their cosmic and earthly relationships. Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Leipzig ( 1937)
  • The variable stars in the northern Milky Way. T.4. ( edited by C. Hoffmeister and P. Ahnert ) Publications of the Astronomical Observatory at Sonnenberg (1947 )
  • For the photometry of the Milky Way. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1947)
  • Meteor streams. Johann Ambrosius Barth Verlag, Leipzig ( 1948)
  • The stars. Magazine for all areas of astronomy. (Editor C. Hoffmeister 1951-1967 ) JA Barth Verlag, Leipzig - Heidelberg - Berlin
  • The variable stars in the northern Milky Way. T.6. ( edited by C. Hoffmeister and others) Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1951)
  • The variable stars in the northern Milky Way. T.7. ( edited by C. Hoffmeister and others) Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1954)
  • Stars over the steppe. VEB FA Brockhaus Verlag, Leipzig ( 1954)
  • Counts of meteors in South West Africa 1937-1938. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1955)
  • Measurements of atmospheric optics in southwest Africa. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1956) and (1966 )
  • Photographic images of the comet. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1956)
  • Processing of the light variation of 75 short-period variable stars between 25 ° and 90 ° south declination. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1956)
  • The variable stars in the northern Milky Way. T.9. ( edited by C. Hoffmeister, W. Götz, H. Huth ) Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1957)
  • About the behavior of three typical and atypical RW Aurigae six stars. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1958)
  • Observations of upper atmosphere illuminations of the night sky in South West Africa 1952-1953. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1958)
  • Observations of the enhanced night sky glow in the years 1946-1957. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1959)
  • The variable stars in the northern Milky Way. T.11. ( edited by C. Hoffmeister ) Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1960)
  • Variable stars in the southern sky. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1963)
  • Astronomical treatises. (together with P. Ahnert ) JA Barth Verlag, Leipzig ( 1965)
  • Analysis of the light curves of RW Aurigae four stars. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1965)
  • The structure of the galaxy. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin ( 1966)
  • Variable Stars. (together with G. Richter and W. Wenzel) JA Barth Verlag, Leipzig ( 1990), ISBN 3-335-00224-5


  • W. Wenzel, I. Häusele: Sonneberg photographic sky atlas. JA Barth Verlag, Leipzig ( 1991), ISBN 3-335-00297-0
  • S. Marx: Cuno Hoffmeister. Commemorative 100th anniversary JA Barth Verlag, Leipzig ( 1992), ISBN 3-335-00282-2
  • Short biography to: Hoffmeister Cuno. In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 1 Ch links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4.