History of Astronomy : Persons : List of Obituary Notes

A Finding List of Obituary Notes of Astronomers (1900 - 1997)


The following tables have been compiled from the obituary notes published in astronomical and general scientific periodicals. Some conference proceedings and separate pamphlets are also included.

The list is arranged alphabetically. It contains single bibliographical entries: Name, first (and subsequent) name(s), date of birth and death (as derived from the biographical information); reference (journal, volume (year) page), plus information about portrait; author of obituary note; bibliographic reference indicating an entry in the Astronomischer Jahresbericht (AJB), Astronomy and Astrophysics Abstracts (AAA), or from a private compilation of Wolfgang R. Dick (WRD).

The bibliographic database suffers from several shortcomings. Some journals that were searched for at some times in AJB were later discarded; others were added; it is often not clear if portraits are available, i.e. the lacking note »with portrait« does not necessarily mean that no portrait can be found in the original paper.

It was not often easy to discriminate between extended obituaries, short obituary notes, and one-line-news about the death of astronomers. Short obituaries in AJB that were based on a longer obituary and clearly marked as »Referate« were not included in this listing. This clear separation was unavailable in later Jahresberichte, and therefore all bibliographical entries were included in this database. Furthermore, information on portraits, life dates etc. is from time to time not included in the original AJB entries. We intend to incorporate such information in later versions of this Finding List.

We have listed everything, without checking its dependence from other sources, without checking its contents, and without checking the correctness of the bibliographic information. Every user is encouraged to use this database as a first, cursory information, and s/he should consult, in case of difficulties, the entry in the Jahresbericht or in Astronomy and Astrophysics Abstracts. (The number listed in this database leads unambiguously to the original source of information: The numbers indicate the relevant Volume.Section.Entry. References containing the number 007 for the section were taken from AAA, all others from AJB.)

It should be taken into account that »personal notes« containing information of the careers of astronomers, »jubilee« articles as well as biographies of astronomers written long after their death are not included in this database. Thus, there are many more printed sources of information for the lifes of astronomers (and possibly better balanced ones) than the presently listed obituaries, and every serious student of astronomical history is encouraged to study the original sources.

While compiling this database, we have found bibliographic entries for astronomers whose names we know, but about whose life we did not know much. On the other hand, we have found that the bibliographic survey of the AJB/AAA is far from being complete; searches in relevant journals at the time of death of an astronomer which is almost always given in this compilation may often prove fruitful. (In case that the year of death is not given here, the year of publication of the obituary may be used as a rough estimate.)

It is planned to add a list of abbreviations of journal titles, to update this bibliographic database, to extend it in a second step to the 19th century (using the »old« journals MN, AN, etc. and the Houzeau-Lancaster's Bibliographie astronomique), to check the completeness, and to include additional information about the contents of the presently listed references. Users are kindly invited to communicate any shortcomings of this Finding List to the undersigned (hilmar@uni-muenster.de).

Hilmar W. Duerbeck


Hilmar W. Duerbeck. HTML version: Wolfgang R. Dick. Created: 29 May 2000

ULR of this page: http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/~pbrosche/persons/obit/intro.html