Georg von Neumayer

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Georg Balthazar von Neumayer (21 June 1826 – 24 May 1909), was a German polar explorer and scientist who conceived the idea of international cooperation for meteorology and scientific observation.

Born in Kirchheimbolanden, Palatinate, Neumayer finished his education in geophysics and hydrography in Munich, Bavaria in 1849; and becoming much interested in polar exploration, continued his studies in terrestrial magnetism, oceanography, navigation, and nautical astronomy. To obtain practical experience he made a voyage to South America, and after his return gave a series of lectures at Hamburg on Maury's theories of the ocean, and recent improvements in navigation. He then decided to go to Australia, shipped as a sailor before the mast, and arrived at Sydney in 1852. After trying his fortune on the goldfields, he gave lectures on navigation to seamen, and spent some time in Tasmania at the observatory in Hobart.

Neumayer returned to Germany in 1854 convinced that Australia offered a great field for scientific exploration, obtained the support of the King of Bavaria and encouragement from leading British scientists. He sailed again for Australia and arrived in Melbourne in January 1857. He asked the government of Victoria to provide him with a site for an observatory, about £700 for a building, and about £600 a year for expenses. He had brought with him a collection of magnetical, nautical and meteorological instruments valued at £2000, which had been provided by the King of Bavaria. Neumayer suggested as a suitable site a block of land not far from the present position of the observatory, but this was not granted. He was, however, allowed the use of the buildings of the signal station on Flagstaff Hill creating the Flagstaff Observatory for Geophysics, Magnetism and Nautical Science at what is now Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne, Australia. From 1 March, 1858 he carried on the systematic registration of meteorological and nautical data. A few weeks later he added regular observations on atmospheric electricity and changes in the magnetic elements. He published in 1860, Results of the Magnetical, Nautical and Meteorological Observations from March 1858 to February 1859, and did a large amount of travelling in Victoria in connection with his magnetic survey of the colony. He published his Results of the Meteorological Observations 1859-1862 and Nautical Observations 1858-1862 in 1864, and in the same year returned to Germany. In 1867 he brought out his Discussion of the Meteorological and Magnetical Observations made at the Flagstaff Observatory, and in 1869 appeared his extremely valuable Results of the Magnetic Survey of the Colony of Victoria—1858-1864.

Later, he organized the "Gazelle Expedition." (1874-1876) and was director of the hydrographic organisation "Deutsche Seewarte" (1876-1903). He chaired the International Polar Commission in 1879 together with Karl Weyprecht, founding the first International Polar Year 1882/83 and the Antarctic Year 1901. In 1895, von Neumayer had established the German Commission for South Polar Exploration, which culminated in the First German Antarctica Expedition in 1901, the so-called Gauss expedition.

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