Kowalski Marian Albertovich

(03(15).08.1821 - 28.05.(09.06).1884)


Russian astronomer of Polish origin, corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

Born in Dobinj nad Wisla, in the family of a Polish landowner. Primary education in high school Polotsk. Then he studied engineering in Warsaw.

In 1841 he entered St. Petersburg University, graduated in 1845 with a gold medal. Pupil A.N. Savich and V.Ya. Struve.

In 1846 Kovalsky trained at the Pulkovo Observatory. In 1847–1849 he worked in an expedition to determine the geographical coordinates of points in the Northern Urals.

Since 1852 - Professor of Kazan University, since 1854 - Director of the Observatory of this university.

According to contemporaries, Kovalsky at the University of Kazan enjoyed "almost unlimited prestige." This is evidenced by the fact of his unanimous election in 1880 as rector of the university. True, he refused this post, motivating his step by overloading with educational and especially scientific work.

Burdened by a big family, Kowalski was forced to look for a part-time job. Such was found in the Rodionovsky Institute (Kazan). He became a "class inspector." At this work, the scientist was over 20 years old and gained fame as a thoughtful and progressive teacher-organizer.

Kovalsky is one of the organizers of the Russian Astronomical Society and a supporter of the widest communication among scientists. He actively participated in the All-Russian congresses of naturalists and doctors. At the first congress in 1867, the scientist made a report on refraction.

In Kazan, Kovalsky worked for 29 years. He multiplied the glorious scientific traditions of the Kazan University, thanks to which his name is rightfully in the same row with the names of such remarkable university workers as Lobachevsky, Simonov, and others.

The main scientific works of the scientist relate to celestial mechanics. He actively conducted astronomical observations, combining them with theoretical studies. First put forward the idea of the rotation of our star system (in the work “On the laws of proper motion of stars in the Bradley catalog”).

The scientific interests of Kowalski in the field of astronomy turned out to be very broad. He devoted much time and energy to predicting solar and lunar eclipses, determining the orbits of binary stars, and the position of near-polar stars.

At the suggestion of the International Astronomical Society, the scientist compiled a catalog of the position of stars between 75° and 80° northern declination to 9.5 magnitude. In this catalog, published after the death of Kowalski, there are 4218 stars.

Marian Albertovich studied the refraction of light coming from distant celestial bodies in the earth's atmosphere (the phenomenon of refraction). Kovalsky made a great contribution to science in the study of the proper motions of stars. He derived the basic laws of motion and became an innovator in this section of astronomy.

It seemed that for Kovalsky the doors of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences should have hospitably opened wide. But there were two obstacles in the way of the scientist: Polish origin and progressive views. The fact is that in the security department Kovalsky was on the list of unreliable professors. The royal minions at the Academy did everything possible to protect it from "alien" influence. However, they did not succeed in completely getting rid of Kowalsky - his authority as a scientist was very high. Marian Albertovich entered the Academy as a corresponding member.

The overload of educational and scientific work affected the health of the scientist. Began to take heart. Death came unexpectedly. She struck down Marian Albertovich at the table of his study.

Mountain range in the extreme southeast of Torell Land, West Spitsbergen Island. Coordinates 77º 05'N   17º15'E.


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