Vasilyev Alexander Semenovich


(31.08.1868 - 04.03.1947)


Russian Soviet astronomer and surveyor.

Born in Nikolaev, Kherson province (now Nikolaev region in Ukraine) in the family of a marine mechanical engineer.

In 1895, he graduated from the Imperial Novorossiysk University in Odessa with a diploma of first degree (in Soviet times, the II Mechnikov Odessa State University).

He began his scientific activity in his student years, choosing the problem of the rotation of Venus as the theme of his first research.

After graduating from university, Vasilyev in 1896, in order to prepare for a professorship, was seconded to Pulkovo to the Main Astronomical Observatory, where he then worked all his life.

In 1899-1900 Vasiliev, as deputy head, took part in the Russian-Swedish expedition of degree measurement on Spitsbergen, which is considered to be the largest scientific enterprise of the beginning of the 20th century and the first successful experience of international cooperation of scientists in geodetic, astronomical and gravimetric works in high latitudes of the Earth. The structure of the Special Commission, which led the expedition, from the Russian side were academicians O.A. Backlund, F.A. Bredikhin, F.B. Schmidt, A.P. Karpinsky, M.A. Rykachev, who later became academicians B.B. Golitsyn and F.N. Chernyshev, from the military and naval departments generals O.E. Stubendorf, K.I. Mikhailov and A.R. Bonsdorf The composition of the direct performers - A.S. Vasilyev, V.V. Akhmatov, I.I. Sikora, A.P. Gansky, A.D. Pedashenko, D.D. Sergievsky, E.V. Shtelling, A.A. Byalynitsky-Birulya, O.O. Backlund, A.A. Bunge, C.K. Kostinsky, A.M. Shenrok and others.

Under the guidance of Vasiliev and with his direct participation, signals were established and astronomical and geodesic observations were made at several points about the main network.  He compiled a map of the island of Western Spitsbergen at a scale of 1: 21,000.

At the end of the expedition, Vasiliev was engaged in processing the materials received, and in 1915 he published an interesting book in Odessa “On Spitsbergen and on Spitsbergen during the degree measurement”, in which he gave a full description of the expeditionary research. As an epigraph to his narration, he chose the famous dictum of Grand Prince Svyatoslav: “We will bite, but not disgrace the Russian Land”, emphasizing with these words the incredible difficulties and hardshipsexperienced by the participants of the expedition.


Badge issued in honor of the expedition




Since 1903, Vasilyev continuously worked at the Pulkovo Observatory. In addition to scientific work, he paid much attention to teaching.

In 1919, Novorossiysk University was elected an honorary doctor of astronomy and geodesy.

In 1920-1924 Vasiliev held the post of senior director of geodesists of the Military Engineering Academy and hydrographs of the Naval Department.

The merits of Vasiliev awarded orders St. Anne 2 degrees, St. Vladimir 4 degrees and the Red Banner of Labor.

He died in Pulkovo. He was buried in the cemetery of the Pulkovo Observatory.

Glacier in the south-east of the island of West Svalbard.

Glacier (Alexandra) in the Western part of the Land of Olaf V, West Spitsbergen Island. The coordinates are 78º 50' N  18º 00'E.

Mountains on the east coast of the island of West Spitsbergen.

Pass in the northwestern part of the Sircapp Earth to the islands of Western Svalbard. Opened and named April 3, 1900.


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