The Bruce Medalists


  Photo 1894, courtesy Mary Lea Shane Archives, Lick Observatory
Maximilian Franz Joseph Cornelius Wolf
21 June 1863 1930 Bruce Medalist 3 October 1932

Max Wolf earned his Ph.D. at the University of Heidelberg, studied in Stockholm for two years, and then returned to spend the rest of his life at Heidelberg, where he founded and directed the Königstuhl Observatory and served as professor of astrophysics. He used wide-field photography to study the Milky Way and used statistical treatment of star counts to prove the existence of clouds of dark matter. He was among the first astronomers to show that the spiral nebulae have absorption spectra typical of stars and thus differ from gaseous nebulae. He discovered hundreds of asteroids, the first of which he named Brucia in honor of the donor of his 16-inch double telescope, Catherine Wolfe Bruce. He discovered the first Trojan asteroid, Achilles, as well as thousands of nebulae and galaxies. A co-developer of the stereocomparator, Wolf also suggested the idea of the modern planetarium while advising on the new Deutsches Museum in Munich.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Seares, Frederick H., PASP 42, 5-22 (1930).

Other awards
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1914, presented by E.H. Hills, MNRAS 74, 377-389 (1914).

Some offices held
Astronomische Gesellschaft, President, 1930-31.

Biographical materials
Freiesleben, H.-Christ., Dictionary of Scientific Biography 14, 481-82.
Freiesleben, Hans-Christian, Max Wolf: Der Bahnbrecher der Himmelsphotographie, 1863-1932 (Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart, 1962) [review by Charlotte Schmidt, in German].
Knill, Oliver, Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (Springer, NY, 2007), pp. 1237-38 [also here].
Kopf, August, Max Wolf: mit einer Bibliographie über Max Wolfs Lebenswerk (Poeschel & Trepte, Leipzig, 1933).
Lemke, Dietrich, “Etwas anderes als Astronom kann man eigentlich gar nicht werden ...” Sterne und Weltraum, July 2013, pp. 40-51. [free download for subscribers only]
Schaifers, K., “Max Wolf, 1863-1932,” Semper Apertus, Sechshundert Jahre Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelbergo 1386-1986, Festschrift in 6 Bänden (Springer-Verlag, 1985), III, 97-113.
Tenn, Joseph S., “Max Wolf: The Twenty-Fifth Bruce Medalist,” Mercury  23, 4, 27-28 (1994).
Wolfschmidt, Gudrun, “Max Wolf as a Pioneer of Astrophotography,” abstract of talk presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft at Heidelberg, September 14–19, 1998.

Kopff, August, “Max Wolf 1863-1932: Ein Gedenkblatt, [memorial celebration]” Sitzungsberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, 1933, no. 4 (Berlin, 1933).
MacPherson, Hector, Observatory 55, 355-59 (1932).
R[eynolds], J.H., MNRAS 93, 236-238 (1933).
Directory of biographies and obituaries [in German]

Steinicke, Wolfgang [includes photos of Wolf’s observatories as well].
University of Heidelberg Library, with Phillip Lennard.

Named after him
Lunar crater Wolf
Minor planet #827 Wolfiana
Irregular Galaxy Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte [with Knut Lundmark & P.J. Melote]

More references

The Bruce Medalists

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