Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve

Portrait of Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve

Born: Altona, Duchy of Holstein - 15 April 1793
Died: St. Petersburg - 23 November 1864

Struve was the second of a dynasty of astronomers that spanned five generations. His father moved the family from the Duchy of Holstein to Livonia in Imperial Russia in order to avoid military service during French occupation. Struve entered the Imperial University of Dorpat, and went on to teach there and observe at the Dorpat Observatory. After becoming a full professor in Dorpat, Struve moved to St. Petersburg, where he became the founder and first director of the Pulkovo Observatory.

Pulkovo Observatory in St Petersburg, Russia
Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg

Struve is credited as one of the founders of stellar astronomy, best known for his work on double stars. He also established the Struve Geodetic Arc, an attempt to measure the exact dimensions of the earth via a chain of triangulations running from the Black Sea to Hammerfest in Norway. He was a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences from 1832, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.