Peter Andreas Hansen

Peter Andreas Hansen

Famous German astronomer.
Date of Birth: 08.12.1795
Country: Germany

Peter Andreas Ganzel - Biography of a Famous German Astronomer

Peter Andreas Ganzel was a renowned German astronomer who made significant contributions to the field. Born into a family of goldsmiths, Ganzel's passion for mathematics and astronomy was hindered by his family circumstances. Despite this, he dedicated his free time to the study of languages and the creation of various physical instruments.

Unable to pursue his beloved scientific pursuits fully, Ganzel began working as a clockmaker in Flensburg. In 1818, he moved to Berlin, where he continued studying the art of clockmaking for a year. Upon returning home, he opened his own clockmaking workshop.

In 1820, Ganzel seized the opportunity to travel to Copenhagen to study mathematics and astronomy under Schumacher. From 1821 onwards, he became Schumacher's permanent collaborator for degree measurement in Holstein. In 1825, Ganzel was invited to become the director of the observatory in Gotha, succeeding Encke. He remained in Gotha until his death in 1874.

During his time in Gotha, Ganzel constructed a new observatory in 1857. Additionally, he delved into the theories of perturbations, instrument design (including heliometers, equatorials, and transit instruments), geodesy, dioptrics, and probability theory.

Ganzel's practical talent found limited opportunities to flourish, even in a modest observatory like the one in Gotha. Nevertheless, he introduced various improvements to astronomical instruments. Many notable astronomers, including Auvers, Wagner (former vice-director of the Pulkovo Observatory), Gould, Povalko, and Zeh, were among Ganzel's students.

Ganzel's outstanding works brought him recognition not only in his home country but also abroad. In 1846, he became a member of the Royal Saxon Society of Sciences, and in 1865, he was elected as a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.