Struve, Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von (1793–1864)

Friedrich Struve was a German astronomer, who was an expert on double stars – discovering many new ones among the 3,000 stars he catalogued – and one of the first astronomers to measure stellar parallax. He was also the patriarch of a dynasty of famous astronomers that spanned four generations.


FGW Struve


Born in Altona, Schleswig-Holstein, Struve fled to Dorpat (now Tartu) in Estonia in 1808, to avoid conscription into the German army. In 1810 he graduated from the University of Dorpat and from 1817 on served as Director of the Dorpat Observatory. In 1822 he published the first of many double-star catalogues, the identifying numbers of which are still used today. Struve's stars, however, are now often named in his honor (for example, Struve 2398), whereas the original catalogue prefix was the Greek letter sigma. In 1833 he moved to Russia to set up the Pulkovo Observatory near St. Petersburg, of which he was director until his retirement in 1862, when his son, Otto Wilhelm Struve took over in the post.


In total, Friedruch Struve produced 272 astronomical works and 18 children; his great-grandson Otto, by contrast, produced 907 works but zero children.