1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bode, Johann Elert

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BODE, JOHANN ELERT (1747-1826), German astronomer, was born at Hamburg on the 19th of January 1747. Devoted to astronomy from his earliest years, he eagerly observed the heavens at a garret window with a telescope made by himself, and at nineteen began his career with the publication of a short work on the solar eclipse of the 5th of August 1766. This was followed by an elementary treatise on astronomy entitled Anleitung zur Kenntniss des gestirnten Himmels (1768, 10th ed. 1844), the success of which led to his being summoned to Berlin in 1772 for the purpose of computing ephemerides on an improved plan. There resulted the foundation by him, in 1774, of the well-known Astronomisches Jahrbuch, 51 yearly volumes of which he compiled and issued. He became director of the Berlin observatory in 1786, withdrew from official life in 1825, and died at Berlin on the 23rd of November 1826. His works were highly effective in diffusing throughout Germany a taste for astronomy. Besides those already mentioned he wrote: Sammlung astronomischer Tafeln (3 vols., 1776); Erläuterung der Sternkunde (1776, 3rd ed. 1808); Uranographia (1801), a collection of 20 star-maps accompanied by a catalogue of 17,240 stars and nebulae. In one of his numerous incidental essays he propounded, in 1776, a theory of the solar constitution similar to that developed in 1795 by Sir William Herschel. He gave currency, moreover, to the empirical rule known as “Bode's Law,” which was actually announced by Johann Daniel Titius of Wittenberg in 1772. It is expressed by the statement that the proportionate distances of the several planets from the sun may be represented by adding 4 to each term of the series; 0, 3, 6, 12, 24, &c. The irregularity will be noticed of the first term, which should be 1½ instead of 0. (See Solar System.)

See J. F. Encke, Berlin Abhandlungen (1827), p. xi.; H. C. Schumacher, Astr. Nach. v. 255, 367 (1827); Poggendorff, Biog. literarisches Handwörterbuch; Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, iii. 1.