Dirk Brouwer

Dirk Brouwer


Date of Birth
September 1, 1902
Date of Death
January 31, 1966

Born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Dirk Brouwer received his Ph.D. in 1927 under Willem de Sitter at the University of Leiden and then joined the faculty at Yale University, where he worked in celestial mechanics with Ernest W. Brown. While still a student he determined the mass of Titan from its influence on other Saturnian moons. From 1941 to 1966 he served as director of the Yale University Observatory and editor of the Astronomical Journal. Brouwer developed general methods for finding orbits and computing errors and applied these methods to comets, asteroids, and planets. Working with Wallace Eckert of IBM and Gerald Clemence of the U.S. Naval Observatory Nautical Almanac Office, Brouwer was among the first to use electronic computers for astronomical computations. He computed the orbits of the first artificial satellites and from them obtained increased knowledge of the figure of the earth. His book, Methods of Celestial Mechanics, taught a generation of celestial mechanicians. He also redetermined astronomical constants.

Presentation of Bruce medal

Henyey, L.G., PASP 78, 195-98 (1966).

Other awards

Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1955, presented by J. Jackson, MNRAS 115, 199-202 (1955).

Biographical materials

Brouwer, Dirk, McGraw-Hill Modern Scientists and Engineers, 1, 146-7 (1980).
Dieke, Sally H., Dictionary of Scientific Biography 2, 511-12.
Fosmire, Michael, Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomerspp. 173-74.


Ashbrook, J., Sky & Telescope 31, 146 (1966).
Danby, J.M.A., QJRAS 8, 84-88 (1967).
van de Hulst, H.Hemel en Dampkring 64, 83-85 (1966).

Named after him

American Astronomical Society Division on Dynamical Astronomy Dirk Brouwer Award
Lunar crater Brouwer (with mathematician L.E.J. Brouwer)
Minor Planet #1746 Brouwer


Papers, etc.

Brouwer’s papers are at the Yale University Library. See also the records of the Department of Astronomy. Brouwer is discussed in the AIP Niels Bohr Library & Archives oral history interviews with E.D. Hoffleit and A.J. Wesselink.

Other References: Historical

Comrie, L.J., “The Application of the Hollerith Tabulating Machine to Brown’s Tables of the Moon,” MNRAS 92, 694-707 (1932).

Hoffleit, Dorrit, Astronomy at Yale, 1701-1968 (Connecticut Academy of Arts & Sciences, New Haven, CT, 1992). [excerpt]

Hoffleit, Dorrit, “Some Glimpses from My Career,” Mercury 21, 1, 16-18 (1992).

Hoffleit, Dorrit, “Yale and USNO Cooperation, Especially in the Brouwer and Clemence Era,” Comments on Astrophysics, 16, 1, 17-30 (1992).

Hoots, Felix R., “Celestial Mechanics,” Encyclopedia of Physical Science & Technology, 2, 590-603.

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Other References: Scientific

Brower, D., “A New Determination of the Mass of Titan by Hill’s Method,” Bull. Astr. Inst. Netherlands 2, 119-20 (1924).

Brower, D., “On the Constitution of the Earth,” Bull. Astr. Inst. Netherlands 2, 161-61 (1924).

Brower, D., “Discussie van de waarnemingen van Satellieten I, II en III van Jupiter, gedaan te Johannesburg door Dr. R.T.A. Innes in de jaren 1908-1925 [Discussion of Observations of Jupiter Satellites I, II and III by Dr. R. T. A. Innes in Johannesburg from 1908 to 1925], Ph.D. Thesis, Leiden University, 1927.

Brown, Ernest W. & Dirk Brouwer, “The Mean Apparent Error of the Moon’s Longitude for 1927,” Astronomical Journal 39, 32 (1929).

Brown, Ernest W. & Dirk Brouwer, “Compilation and Discussion of 418 Occultations Observed in 1927,” Astronomical Journal 39, 97-109 (1929).

Brouwer, Dirk, “Discussion of the Annual Term in the Residuals in the Moon’s Longitude,” Astronomical Journal 40, 161-68 (1930).

Brown, Ernest W. & Dirk Brouwer, “Compilation and Discussion of 746 Occultations Observed in 1928,” Astronomical Journal 40, 185-200 (1930).

Brown, Ernest W. & Dirk Brouwer, “Analysis of Records Made on the Loomis Chronograph by Three Shortt Clocks and a Crystal Oscillator,” MNRAS 91, 575-91 (1931).

Brouwer, Dirk, “Interesting Examples of the Limb Effect and Errors in Star Positions in Occultations,” Astronomical Journal 41, 69-71 (1931).

Brown, Ernest W. & Dirk Brouwer, Tables of the Development of the Disturbing Function with Schedules for Harmonic Analysis (Yale University Observatory, New Haven, CT, 1930).

Brouwer, Dirk, “Occultations of Pleiades Stars by the Moon,” Astronomical Journal 42, 17-19 (1932).

Brouwer, Dirk, Theory and Tables of the Motion of (588) Achilles (Yale University Observatory, New Haven, CT, 1933).

Brown, Ernest W. & Dirk Brouwer, “Revision of the Residuals from Occultations of the Years 1923-6 with Additions,” Astronomical Journal 43, 49-55 (1933).

Brouwer, Dirk, “On the Determination of Systematic Corrections to Star Positions from Observations of Minor Planets,” Astronomical Journal 44, 57-63 (1935).

Brown, Ernest W. & Dirk Brouwer, “Compilation and Discussion of 1194 Occultations Observed in 1933,” Astronomical Journal 44, 129-46 (1935).

de Sitter, W., “On the System of Astronomical Constants (edited and completed by Dirk Brouwer, with the aid of notes by W. de Sitter),” Bull. Astr. Inst. Netherlands 8, 213-31 (1938).

Brouwer, Dirk, “The Reference System with a View to Planetary Dynamics,” Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 42, 133-49 (1941).

Brouwer, Dirk & Louise F. Jenkins, “Measurements of the Binary System Σ2398 on Parallax Plates taken at the Yerkes Observatory,” Astronomical Journal 51, 54-57 (1944).

Brouwer, Dirk, “The Motion of a Particle with Negligible Mass under the Gravitational Attraction of a Spheroid,” Astronomical Journal 51, 223-31 (1946).

Brouwer, Dirk, “ A Survey of the Dynamics of Close Binary Systems” Astronomical Journal 52, 57-62 (1946).

Brouwer, Dirk, “ Secular Variations of the Elements of Encke’s Comet” Astronomical Journal 52, 190-97 (1947).

Brouwer, Dirk, “Families of Minor Planets and Related Distributional Problems” Astronomical Journal 55, 162-63 (1950).

Eckert, Wallace John, Dirk Brouwer, & G.M. Clemence, Astronomical Papers Prepared for the Use of the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac, v. 12 (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1951).

Brouwer, Dirk, “ Secular Variations of the Orbital Elements of Minor Planets” Astronomical Journal 56, 9-32 (1951).

Brouwer, Dirk, “Comparison of Numerical Integration of the Motions of Uranus and Neptune with Newcomb’s Tables” Astronomical Journal 56, 35 (1951).

van Woerkom, A.J.J. & Dirk Brouwer, “The H-R diagram, Derived from the New General Catalogue of Trigonometric Parallaxes, ” Astronomical Journal 57, 2-3 (1952).

Brouwer, Dirk, “A Study of the Changes in the Rate of Rotation of the Earth,” Astronomical Journal 57, 125-45 (1952).

Brouwer, Dirk, “The Motions of the Outer Planets,” MNRAS 115, 221 (1955) [George Darwin Lecture]

Brouwer, Dirk, “Current Trends in Minor Planet Research,” Vistas in Astronomy 2, 943-48 (1956).

Brouwer, Dirk, “Proceedings of the Celestial Mechanics Conference: Outlines of General Theories of the Hill-Brown and Delaunay Types for Orbits of Artificial Satellites,” Astronomical Journal 63, 433-38 (1958).

Brouwer, Dirk, “Solution of the Problem of Artificial Satellite Theory without Drag,” Astronomical Journal 64, 378-96 (1959).

Brouwer, Dirk, ed., The Rotation of the Earth and Atomic Time Standards, IAU Symposium no. 11 held in Moscow, August 1958 (Lancaster Press, Inc. Lancaster, PA, 1959).

Brouwer, Dirk, “A Method of Constructing a Revised General Catalogue,” Astronomical Journal 65, 186-88 (1960).

Brouwer, Dirk & Gen-Ichiro Hori, “Theoretical Evaluation of Atmospheric Drag Effects in the Motion of an Artificial Satellite,” Astronomical Journal 66, 193 (1961) and 66, 39 (1961).

Brouwer, Dirk & Gerald M. Clemence, Methods of Celestial Mechanics (Academic Press, NY, 1961).

Brouwer, Dirk & Gerald M. Clemence, “Orbits and Masses of Planets and Satellites,” in Gerard P. Kuiper and Barbara M. Middlehurst, eds., Planets and Satellites (Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1961), pp. 31-94.

Brouwer, Dirk, “Review of Celestial Mechanics,” Ann. Revs. Astron. & Astrophys. 1, 219-34 (1963).

Brouwer, Dirk, “The Problem of the Kirkwood Gaps in the Asteroid Belt,” Astronomical Journal 68, 152-59 (1963).

Brouwer, Dirk, “Orbits in the Solar and Stellar Systems,” Science 146, 1602-03 (1964).

Yaplee, B.S., S.H. Knowles, A. Shapiro, K.J. Craig, & D. Brouwer, “The Mean Distance to the Moon as Determined by Radar,” in Jean Kovalevsky, ed., The system of Astronomical Constants, Proceedings of the IAU Symposium no. 21 (Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1965), pp.81-93.

Brouwer, D., “Relations among Some Important Astronomical Constants,” in Jean Kovalevsky, ed., The System of Astronomical Constants Proceedings of the IAU Symposium no. 21 (Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1965), pp. 241-49.

Brouwer, Dirk & Gerald M. Clemence, The Motions of the Five Outer Planets (Sky and Telescope Library of Astronomy, MacMillan Co., 1965).

Brouwer, Dirk, “The Orbit of Pluto Over a Long Interval of Time,” in G.I. Kontopoulos, ed., The Theory of Orbits in the Solar System and in Stellar Systems. Proceedings from Symposium no. 25 held in Thessaloniki, August 17-22, 1964 (Academic Press, London, 1966), pp. 227-29.

Brouwer, Dirk & W.H. Jefferys, “Concerning Brouwer’s Paper on the Kirkwood Gaps,” Astronomical Journal 71, 543 (1966).

Other Works: Popularizations, History, etc.

Brouwer, Dirk, “Current Problems of Pluto,” Sky & Telescope 9, 103 (1950).

Clemence, G.M. & Dirk Brouwer, “The Motions of the Five Outer Planets, ” Sky & Telescope 10, 83 (1951).

Brouwer, Dirk & Jason J. Nassau, “The Dedication of the New Poulkovo Observatory,” Sky & Telescope 14, 4 (1954).


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