Struve Vasily Yakovlevich
Russian astronomer and surveyor, academician of the Petersburg
Academy of Sciences.
Born in the city of Alton near Hamburg in the family of the
director of the gymnasium.
Under the guidance of his father, he was mainly engaged in
philology and by the age of fifteen had been prepared for university
His older brother taught at the Dorpat gymnasium, and this was to
some extent the reason that Struve chose to study at the University
Here he continued to study philology, received a philology
diploma, however, fascinated by Parrot's brilliant lectures in
physics, on the advice of the latter, he began to study astronomy.
In 1813, Struve defended his master's thesis on "The Geographical
Location of the Derpt Observatory", and in the same year he was
enrolled as an extraordinary professor at the University of Derpt
and an astronomer-observer at the university observatory.
He taught courses in spherical and practical astronomy, geodesy,
and many others at a significantly higher level than his
In the years 1818-1820
Struve headed the newly formed Department of Astronomy, during
1818–1839 was the director of the Dorpat observatory.
He attracted young scientists to work and equipped the
observatory with the latest instruments, among which the refractor
of the work of J. Fraunhofer was particularly notable.
This telescope had excellent optical and mechanical qualities and
was at that time the largest in the world.
In 1830, Struve joined the commission for the organization and
construction of the Pulkovo Observatory.
Two years later he was elected an ordinary academician of the
Petersburg Academy of Sciences, and in 1834 for an audience with
Emperor Nicholas I, he was appointed director of the observatory
under construction and sent abroad to order the best tools that the
best craftsmen could make.
The rest of Struve's life is connected with the Nikolaev main
observatory in Pulkovo, which he headed until 1862.
Its construction and all the tools are described in detail in
Struve’s voluminous work: “Description de l'observatoire
astronomique central de Poulkova”.
The first job after the opening of the observatory was to
determine its latitude and longitude.
Under the guidance and with the direct participation of Struve in
the Pulkovo Observatory, highly accurate methods for determining the
coordinates of stars were developed.
The star catalogs of the observatory, created by Struve and his
students, had no equal in accuracy.
The Pulkovo Observatory gained fame as the “astronomical capital
of the world”.
Struve carried out the fundamental work of detecting, measuring
and determining the exact positions of binary and multiple stars.
He is considered the founder of this branch of astronomy.
In 1827, as a result of viewing about 120 thousand stars, Struve
published a catalog of 3110 double and multiple stars, 2343 of which
were discovered by him.
In 1837, his work Micrometric Measurements of Double Stars was
published, in which more than 11 thousand measurements of stars made
by Struve during 12 years on a Dorpat refractor were given.
Both catalogs were awarded medals of the Royal Astronomical
Society of London.
In 1852, the “Average Provisions” catalog was published, in which
the results of observations of 2874 stars made by Struve and his
assistants in Dorpat during 1822–1843 are presented.
These catalogs were repeatedly used subsequently in works on
In the Pulkovo Observatory under the direction of Struve, a
system of astronomical constants was defined, which was generally
accepted for 50 years.
With the help of the transit instrument constructed according to
the idea of Struve, he produced the classical definition of
Of great importance for the development of stellar astronomy was
his work “Etudes
star astronomy”, in which the assumption of
the existence of light absorption in interstellar space was
substantiated and the fact of increasing the number of stars per
unit volume as it approached the Milky Way plane was established.
Struve also made a great contribution to the development of
under his leadership, the arc of a meridian measuring 3°
35' long was made from the island of Gogland in the Gulf of Finland
to the city of Jacobstadt.
In 1828, this arc was associated with an arc measured in
southwest Russia under the guidance of K.N.
Tenner, then these measurements were continued from north to
south, as a result of which the length of the entire measured arc
was increased to 25°
The arc is called the Russian-Scandinavian, or Struve arc.
Shortly before his death, in 1862, for work on the degree
measurement of the arc of the meridian in a huge area from the coast
of the Arctic Ocean to the mouth of the Danube, Struve was awarded
Constantine Medal of the
Imperial Russian Geographical Society.
Struve founded the Pulkovo school of astrometry and for a long
time determined the style of scientific work in the observatory,
distinguished by high accuracy and reliability.
He had a great influence on the development of astronomy in
His students became famous astronomers and directors of many
Struve was directly involved in the planning and coordination of
Under his leadership, officers of the Russian fleet and the
general staff were trained at the Derpt and Pulkovo observatories.
During his stay in Dorpat, he supervised the preparation of
students of the "professorial institute", which was intended to
prepare for the professorship of those who graduated from the
who later became a professor at Petersburg University.
Struve was an honorary member of all Russian universities, many
foreign academies of science and scientific societies.
In January 1858, Struve suddenly fell ill.
Although the disease (malignant abscess) was over, his strength
was forever broken.
He handed over the observatory management to his son O.V.
Struve and almost did not study science.
He died in St. Petersburg and was buried in the
cemetery of the
Mountains on the island of
Called by Russian-Swedish expedition on the "degree measurement"