Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 1: Dirk Brouwer

Dirk Brouwer
September 1, 1902 – January 31, 1966

Dirk Brouwer was a Dutch-American astronomer.

He received his Ph.D. in 1927 at Leiden University in the Netherlands and then went to Yale University. From 1941 until 1966 he was editor of the Astronomical Journal.

He specialized in celestial mechanics and together with Gerald Clemence wrote the textbook Methods of Celestial Mechanics.

Dirk Brouwer was renowned for developing general methods for determining orbits and applying these methods to comets, asteroids, and planets. In 1951, he became one of the first to use electronic computers for astronomical computations. With this innovation, he calculated the orbits of the first artificial satellites, and from them, obtained increased knowledge of the shape of the earth, and re-determined astronomical constants. Brouwer's 1961 masterpiece, Methods of Celestial Mechanics, taught a generation of scientists.

Brouwer was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1955) and the Bruce Medal (1966).

The asteroid 1746 Brouwer, the crater Brouwer on the Moon (jointly with mathematician Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer), the Dirk Brouwer Award of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society and the Dirk Brouwer Award of the American Astronautical Society are named in his honor.

1 comment: