Famous Astronomers: Johann Bode & More

In this article, you will learn more about the Italian Theatine monk who discovered the largest asteroid; a German astronomer who coined a famous law regarding the Sun; and the maker of the first radio telescope.
Giuseppe Piazzi (1746 , 1826): This Italian Theatine monk was also a mathematician and astronomer , who gained a reputation of discovering the largest asteroid (Ceres). He is also responsible for accurately measuring the positions of numerous stars, which ended in a star catalog. Born in Ponte in Valtellina, he would later create an observatory at Palermo, which is now known as the Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo “Giuseppe S. Vaiana.”

In 1801, Piazzi uncovered a stellar object that traveled against the background of stars. In the beginning, he believed that it was a fixed star, but as soon as he noticed that it was in motion, he settled on it being a planet (which he referred to as a “new star.”). He noted in his journal that the object possessed a faint light and was the same color as Jupiter.

Johann Bode (1747 ,1826): This German astronomer was known for making the public take notice on the relationship regarding planetary distances and the Sun. “Bode’s Law” was the result of this. He also made predictions regarding the undiscovered planet situated between Mars and Jupiter, which was the location of asteroids found in later years. Bode worked to find more information on the orbit of Uranus, where he also played a role in the naming of the planet. He was also given credit for the discovery of Bode’s Galaxy (also referred to as M81).

When Bode was younger, he battled an eye disease that consistently attacked his right eye. Throughout his life, his eyes would pose a challenge. However, this would not stop him from becoming the director of the Berlin Observatory or from publishing the Uranographia (a celestial atlas that highlighted star positions and other objects found in space) in 1801. He published what was called an astronomical yearbook, and another smaller star atlas that he aimed towards people just started out in astronomy. Bode also created an introductory publication pertaining to constellation and the behind-the-scenes stories, which enjoyed more than ten reprints in its lifetime.

Over the years, some of the works attributed to Bode include:

Anleitung zur Kentniss des Gestirnten Himmels (1772)- This is considered one of the most famous works of Bode, where “Bode’s Law” first made an appearance to the public.

The astronomical yearbook published by Berlin Observatory (1776-1959)

Vorstellung der Gestirne … des Flamsteadschen Himmelsatlas (1782 ) , This represents the revised and enlarged edition of Fortin’s small star atlas of Flamsteed.

Uranographia sive Astrorum Descriptio (1801 ) , This is the large star atlas that showcased 20 copper plates.

Allgemeine Beschreibung und Nachweisung der Gestirne , This star catalog highlighted more than 17,000 stars.