Armin Otto Leuschner

Armin Otto Leuschner


Date of Birth
January 16, 1868
Date of Death
April 22, 1953

Armin Leuschner was born in Detroit but raised in Germany. He returned to take his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan and then became the first graduate student at the Lick Observatory. He soon turned to teaching mathematics and astronomy at Berkeley, later earning his Ph.D. at Berlin. He led the Berkeley Astronomical Department for half a century, and he held many other administrative positions in the University of California as well. His research was in orbit theory, and he determined or refined orbits of numerous asteroids and comets, but his most important contribution to astronomy was as an educator. He founded the Students’ Observatory (now the Leuschner Observatory), and he produced more than sixty Ph.D’s, many of whom became leaders in astronomy.

Presentation of Bruce medal

Nicholson, Seth B.PASP 48, 5-13 (1936).

Other awards

National Academy of Sciences, James Craig Watson Medal, 1916.
Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, David Rittenhouse Medal, 1937.

Some offices held

Astronomical Society of the Pacific, President, 1906, 1936, 1943.

Biographical materials

Herget, Paul, Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Science 49, 129-47 (1978) (pdf).
Tenn, Joseph S., Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (Springer, NY, 2007), pp. 692-94.


Alter, Dinsmore, PASP 65, 269-73 (1953).
Einarsson, S., R.T. Crawford, W.M. Hart & V.F. Lenzen, University of California at Berkeley
Herrick, Samuel, MNRAS 114, 295-98 (1954).
Nicholson, Seth B.Griffith Observer 17, 10, 110-14 (Oct 1953) [consists mostly of a reprint of the presentation of the Bruce Medal cited above].
Sky & Telescope 12, 9, 237 (1953).


AIP Center for History of Physics

Named after him

Lunar crater Leuschner
Minor Planet #1361 Leuschneria
Leuschner Observatory, University of California at Berkeley


Papers, etc.

Papers are at the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley. There is considerable correspondence in the Mary Lea Shane Archives of Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz library.

Other References: Historical

Doel, Ronald E., Solar System Astronomy in America: Communities, Patronage, and Interdisciplinary Science, 1920-1960 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1996).

Einarsson, Sturla, “Astronomy,” in Stadtman, Verne, ed., Centennial Record of the University of California (Univ. of California Printing Dept., Berkeley, 1967). University of California History Digital Archives

Lankford, John, American Astronomy: Community, Careers, and Power, 1859-1940 (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1997) [excerpt].

Leuschner, A.O., “History and Aims of the Students’ Observatory,” PASP 16, 68-77 (1904).

Osterbrock, Donald E., “Armin Leuschner and the Berkeley Astronomical Department,” Astronomy Quarterly 7, 95-115 (1990). [Abstract appears in PASP 101, 881 (1989).]

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Other References: Scientific

Leuschner, A.O., “Elemente des Cometen 1889...(Barnard März 31),” Astr. Nach. 122, 41-42 (1889).

Leuschner, A.O., “On the Orbit of Comet Barnard (1889, June 23),” PASP 1, 31 (1890).

Leuschner, A.O., “Determination of the Relation between the Exposure-Time and the Consequent Blackening of a Photographic Film,” PASP 2, 7-14 (1890).

Leuschner, A.O., “On the General Applicability of ‘The Short Method of Determining Orbits from Three Observations.’,” Popular Astronomy 13, 296-305 (1905).

Leuschner, A.O., “Note on the Predictions Regarding the Transit of Halley’s Comet, 1910 May 18,” Astronomical Journal 26, 135 (1910).

Leuschner, A.O., “A Short Method of Determining Orbits from Three Observations,” Pubs. Lick Obs. 7, 3-20 (1914)7, 217-376 (1914)7, 455-83 (1914). See also Crawford, Russell Tracy, “Application of Leuschner’s Method of Direct Solution of Orbits of Disturbed Bodies,” Pubs. Lick Obs. 7, 487-503 (1914).

Leuschner, A.O., “The Derivation of Orbits, Theory and Practise,” Science 45, 571-84 (1917).

Leuschner, A.O., “Perturbations and Tables of the Minor Planets Discovered by James C. Watson,” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 5, 67-76 (1919).

Leuschner, A.O., “Comparison of Theory with Observation for the Minor planets 10 Hygiea and 175 Andromache with Respect to Perturbations by Jupiter,” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 8, 170-73 (1922).

Leuschner, Armin Otto, Anna Estelle Glancy and Sophia H. Levy, “Tables of Minor Planets Discovered by James C. Watson:, Pt. II.,” Sci. Memoirs Nat. Acad. Sci. 14, 3, 1-158 (1922).

Leuschner, A.O., “Celestial Mechanics: A Survey of the Status of the Determination of the General Perturbations of the Minor Planets,” Bull. Nat. Res. Council 4, 7, 1-73 (1922).

Crawford, R.T., A.O. Leuschner, & Gerald Merton, Determination of Orbits of Comets and Asteroids (McGraw-Hill, NY, 1930).

Esclangon, M.E., et al, “,” IAU Circ. 268 (1930) [early orbit of Pluto].

Maxwell, Allan D., “A Device for the Differential Correction of Conditioned Orbits by Leuschner’s Method,” Pubs. Obs. Univ. Michigan 4, 93-99 (1932).

Leuschner, A.O., “Elements and General Jupiter Perturbations of Ten Watson Planets,” Science 81, 158-59 (1935).

Leuschner, A.O., “Research Surveys of the Orbits and Perturbations of Minor Planets 1 to 1091 from 1801.0 to 1929.5,” Pubs. Lick Obs. 19, 1-519 (1935).

Leuschner, A.O., Sophia H. Levy, C.M. Anderson, Jr., & Ellen Jane Barndollar, “The Effect on Prediction for Minor Planets of the Hecuba Group Produced by Terms not Included in the Berkeley Tables of Perturbations,” PASP 49, 190-99 (1937).

Leuschner, Armin Otto, The Minor Planets of the Hecuba Group, being the Halley Lecture Delivered on 16 June 1938 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK, 1939).

Hansen, Julie M. Vinter & A.O. Leuschner, “Opposition ephemerides for 1942 of minor planets (101) Helena, (103) Hera, (105) Artemis, (119) Althaea, (128) Nemesis, (139) Juewa, (161) Athor, (179) Klytaemnestra,” Lick Obs. Bull. 19, 137-40 (1942) [Bulletin #509].

Leuschner, Armin Otto and Sophia Levy McDonald, “Tables of General Perturbations for a Group of Minor Planets which Includes the Group One-Half with Applications to Thirty-Four Cases,” Pubs. Lick Obs. 20, 1-210 (1952).

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Other Works: Popularizations, etc.

Leuschner, Armin O., “The Royal Astro-Physical Observatory of Potsdam,” PASP 4, 40-45 (1892)

Leuschner, A.O., “Preliminary Statistics on the Eccentricities of Comet Orbits,” PASP 19, 67-71 (1907).

Leuschner, A.O., “Recent Progress in the Study of the Motions of Bodies in the Solar System,” in The Adolfo Stahl Lectures in Astronomy (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1919), pp. 174-207.

Leuschner, A.O., “The Astronomical Romance of Pluto,” PASP 44, 197-214 (1932).

Leuschner, A.O., “The Minor Planets: Stray Sheep of the Solar System,” Scientific Monthly 41, 266-69 (1935).

Leuschner, A.O., “The Story of Andromache, an Unruly Planet,” PASP 48, 55-81 (1936) [public lecture on accepting the Bruce medal].

Hansen, Julie M. Vinter & A.O. Leuschner, “Opposition ephemerides for 1942 of minor planets (101) Helena, (103) Hera, (105) Artemis, (119) Althaea, (128) Nemesis, (139) Juewa, (161) Athor, (179) Klytaemnestra,” Lick Obs. Bull. 19, 137-40 (1942).