Max Wolf

Maximilian Franz Joseph Cornelius Wolf ( born June 21, 1863 in Heidelberg, † October 3, 1932 ) was a German astronomer and discoverer of many known asteroids ( minor planets ). He is also considered a pioneer of the galactic astrophotography.


He studied in Strasbourg and Heidelberg, where he received his doctorate in 1888. For further studies he went to Stockholm, but in 1890 returned to Heidelberg to teach there. In 1896 he took over the chair of astronomy.

Wolf was encouraged by his parents to a great extent. He built as early as 1880, while still a student of the school, a private observatory at his family home in the Heidelberg Märzengasse which later received a 5 - meter dome and a 6 -inch double astrographs. He sat consistently at astrophotography as an observation method and discovered as early as 1884 a comet and a few years later, the North America Nebula in Cygnus. On December 22, 1891 Max Wolf was the first astronomer to a small planet with photographic methods, which he called " (323) Brucia " in honor of American science philanthropist Catherine Wolfe Bruce.

On the king chair at Heidelberg, the new Grand Ducal mountain observatory was inaugurated in 1898, today Heidelberg State Observatory king chair. Wolf succeeded private donors to move the purchase of telescopes (including Catherine Wolfe Bruce ), according to which the telescopes are named today. The Institute initially consisted of two competing departments, the astrophysical under Wolf and the astrometric under Wilhelm Valentiner, but was united by Valenti former retirement 1909 Max Wolf. In the same year Wolf succeeded the rediscovery of Halley's comet to its perihelion passage 1909/1910.

Important areas of work and excellence

Max Wolf's main areas of work in this period were the cataloging astronomical fog, especially in the constellations of Orion and Swan ( constellation ). He made by spectroscopy gaseous nebulae, gaseous states of matter, visible. 1913 Wolf noticed the first systematic line shifts in the spectra of spiral nebulae. After Max Wolf the Wolf diagram has been designated a stellarstatistisches tool for the calculation of the distances and the expansion of stellar dark clouds.

The area today known work Max Wolf was his search for small planets, of which he himself discovered 228, including in 1906 the first Trojans, ( 588 ) Achilles. At the Institute, he discovered with his staff and his successors until the 1950s, more than 800 minor planets, a record that was recently broken up with large-scale screening programs.

Along with Johann Palisa in Vienna, the first star atlas was to search for and identification of newly discovered celestial bodies. Later, the two original competitors published - Palisa had discovered more than 100 asteroids visually - the photographic Wolf Palisa - star maps in 210 sheets.


He even named the 1902 he discovered asteroid ( 495) Eulalie after the first name of his grandmother.

Max Wolf remained until his death a research- astronomer. He died on the King chair in Heidelberg and at the Heidelberg Mountain Cemetery in the Forest Department ( WA) buried. In one of the obituaries is written: "So it was spared to divorce his workplace as a survivor. "

His grave system is by a large boulder decorated on the next dates of his life the following, written by himself lines, based on Ps 19.2 LUT, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handywork, and Ludwig van Beethoven hymn-like setting of the first two verses of the poet Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, the heavens declare, should be read in Greek verse:

The heavens are telling of the eternal honor by the stars Powerful parent run after the sublime law. Mir the researchers they opened their depth and shuddering I Feel the divine hand that created them with love.