Johann Elert Bode

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Johann Elert Bode (January 19, 1747 – November 23, 1826) was a German astronomer known for his reformulation and popularization of the Titius-Bode law. Bode determined the orbit of Uranus and suggested the planet's name.



Bode was born in Hamburg. As a youth, he suffered from a serious eye disease which particularly damaged his right eye; he continued to have trouble with his eyes throughout his life.[1]

Bode was the director of the Berlin Observatory, where he published the Uranographia in 1801, a celestial atlas that aimed both at scientific accuracy in showing the positions of stars and other astronomical objects, as well as the artistic interpretation of the stellar constellation figures. The Uranographia marks the climax of an epoch of artistic representation of the constellations. Later atlases showed fewer and fewer elaborate figures until they were no longer printed on such tables.

Bode also published an astronomical yearbook, another small star atlas, intended for astronomical amateurs (Vorstellung der Gestirne), and an introductory book on the constellations and their tales, which was reprinted more than ten times. He is credited with the discovery of Bode's Galaxy (M81). Comet Bode (C/1779 A1) is named after him; its orbit was calculated by Erik Prosperin.

From 1787 to 1825 Bode was director of the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut. In 1794, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In April, 1789 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society [2]

Bode died in Berlin on November 23, 1826, aged 79.

Selected writings

  • 1772 Anleitung zur Kentniss des Gestirnten Himmels (The most famous of Bode's writings. In this work, he first announced Bode's law.)
  • 1774-1957 Berliner Astronomisches Jahrbuch für 1776-1959 (The astronomical yearbook published by Berlin Observatory.)
  • 1782 Vorstellung der Gestirne ... des Flamsteadschen Himmelsatlas (Bode's revised and enlarged edition of Fortin's small star atlas of Flamsteed.)
  • 1801 Uranographia sive Astrorum Descriptio (A large star atlas illustrated with twenty copper plates.)


Further reading

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