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Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





1 article for "Olbers"

Olbers, Heinrich Wilhelm Mathaus [Astro*Index]


(1758-1840) German astronomer. Born at Arbergen (near Bremen); died at Bremen.

His initial work was with comets, and is credited with the discovery of 5, one of which is called Olber's Comet. In 1797, he developed a method for determining their orbits from a set of observations. With others, he sought the discovery of a planet to fill the gap between Mars and Jupiter. After Piazzi discovered Ceres in this gap, Olbers discovered Pallas (in 1802) and Vesta (in 1804). He was first to advance the theory that a planet of moderate size had occupied the zone now filled with asteroids, and they had been formed by the explosion of this extinct planet. In 1826, he advanced the statement (known as Olbers' Paradox) that if the number of stars were infinite, and the stars were uniformly distributed in space, the night sky would be bright, not dark; hence, dust must be obscuring most of the light. The correct explanation is that the Red Shift weakens the light from the stars, keeping the night sky dark.


See also: ♦ Asteroid ♦ Piazzi, Giuseppe


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