Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 9: Leo Brenner

Spiridon Gopcevic
July 9, 1855 – 1928

Spiridon Gopcevic or Gopcevia was a Serbian astronomer and historian. He is also known by his pen name of Leo Brenner.

He was born to a shipowner in the Austrian litoral town of Triest (today in Italy), and at an early age, after his father died, was sent to Vienna to be educated. Following the death of his mother, he became a journalist by trade.

Among his works he published Macedonia and Old Serbia in 1889, an ethnographic study. However he spent time in jail in 1893 due to some of his articles against the Austro-Hungarian government, and decided to end his journalistic career.

In 1893 he founded Manora Observatory on Mali Lošinj. This observatory was named for his wife, a wealthy Austrian noblewoman. At this observatory, Spiridon used the 17.5cm refractor telescope at the observatory to make observations of Mars, the rings of Saturn, and other planets. However he would eventually close the observatory in 1909 due to financial problems.

From 1899 until 1908 he was the founder and editor of the Astronomische Rundschau, a popular scientific journal. He spent several years in America before returning to Europe and editing an army journal in Berlin during the war. The circumstances of his death are somewhat uncertain, but he appears to have been impoverished.

The crater Brenner on the Moon was named after him (based on his nom de plume) by his friend Phillip Fauth. A new observatory was built on Mali Lošinj in 1993, and was named "Leo Brenner".

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