Biography of Hermann Goldschmidt (1802-1866)

Painter and German astronomer born in Frankfurt-am-Main (in the State of Hesse) on June 17, 1802 and died in Fontainebleau (in the Department of Seine-et-Marne, France) on 26 April 1866. His real name was Hermann Mayer Salomon Goldschmidt.

Son of a Jewish businessman who had its headquarters in Frankfurt, began his professional life working in the company of his father; but he/she soon abandoned this activity to go to Paris and receive art classes, born of his strong attraction to the pictorial creation. Previously, he/she had received lessons in painting in Munich - under the guidance of Ferdinand Schnorr von Carolsfeld and Cornelius- and Holland (1832).

Installed in Paris in 1836, deployed, thereafter, intense creative activity which made him an artist of great celebrity in the French capital, where he/she painted some of his most valuable works, such as the Sibyl of Cumae, offering to Venus, view of Rome, the death of Romeo and Juliet and Cleopatra; in this role his own painter, highlighted also by the beauty of its landscapes. Its fully romantic style, accused the influence of some of the great masters of this period, as Delacroix.

For much of the Decade of the 1940s lived in Rome (probably between 1842 and 1846), where he/she came into contact with some disciples of the Group of the Nazarenes, a generation of German painters who had moved to the eternal city at the beginning of the 19th century - following, among others, to Schnorr von Carolsfeld, former master from Goldschmidt in Munich. He/She then returned to the gala capital, attracted by Luis Felipe of Orleans, and went through great difficulties during the revolution of 1848.

From 1847, Hermann Goldschmidt was keenly interested in astronomy, discipline that was in vogue throughout the West, following the recent discovery of Neptune (1846). Frequent visitor to the Observatory of Paris, between 1852 and 1860 discovered 14 asteroids of varied size (between 73 and 250 km in diameter), with what became the most outstanding astronomer in this activity, snatching the top spot to Briton John Russel Hind (which, between 1847 and 1854, had discovered ten asteroids). Subsequently, his mark was whipped by the German Robert Luther (discoverer of twenty-four asteroids between 1852 and 1890), the North American C. H. F. Peters (who detected 48 between 1861 and 1889) and the Austrian Johann Palisa (which identified 123 between 1874 and 1923).

Undoubtedly, the asteroid of interest among those discovered by Goldschmidt is Nysa, the smallest of those who detected the German astronomer, and one of the more notable by its high albedo (40%) and its eye-catching yellow coloration. Marked with the No. 44, it was sighted by Goldschmidt from the Observatory of Paris on May 27, 1957. The rest of the asteroids detected by the astronomer of Frankfurt are:

Lutetia (No. 21). Sighted on November 15, 1852. Pomona (No. 32). October 26, 1854. Atalante (No. 36). on October 5, 1855. Harmonia (No. 40). on March 31, 1856. Daphne (No. 41). on May 22, 1856. Eugenia (No. 45). on June 27, 1857. Doris (No. 48). on September 19, 1857. Pallets (No. 49). on September 19, 1857. Europe (No. 52). on February 4, 1858. Alexandra (No. 54). on September 10, 1858. Melete (No. 56). on September 9, 1857. Danae (No. 61). on September 9, 1860. (No. 70) Panopaea. on May 5, 1861.

In 1861, Goldschmidt announced that it had detected the ninth Moon of Saturn, which was baptized with the name of Chiron (Chiron). But other later astronomers could not verify the existence of this satellite. After more than 100 years, the American Charles Kowal, from Mount Palomar Observatory, detected the presence of a celestial body that corresponds to that described in 1861 by Goldschmidt. With an orbit is very eccentric, alien to the belt of asteroids, located between Saturn and Uranus, Chiron inaugurated the Centaur group of asteroids that are characterized by jumping between the orbits of the planets. Was it speculation that it could be a satellite of the orbits of Saturn or Uranus, which gave credit to the first intuitions of Goldschmidt; but in 1989 was believed to detect in it a small tail that did think that they were, indeed, of a comet.

In any case, the observations that made Goldschmidt in 1861 served to Phoebe, the authentic ninth Moon of Saturn, was discovered in 1898 by the American William Henry Pickering. In June 2004, the Cassini-Huygens space probe captured the first photographic images of this satellite.

In addition to his notable discoveries of asteroids, Goldschmidt is remembered for having described meticulously solar flares observed on July 10, 1860, during a total eclipse. By the sum of their valuable contributions to the knowledge of celestial bodies, Hermann Mayer Salomon Goldschmidt was admitted to the Academy of Sciences in 1861, and awarded the Medal of gold of the Royal Astronomical Society London in that year. In his honor, the asteroid No. 1614 (discovered on April 18, 1852 by A. Schmitt from Uccle Belgian Observatory) were baptized with the name of Goldschmidt and a lunar crater.

JRF