Born Warsaw, Poland, 2 September 1878
Died Torun, Poland, 6 February 1962
Wladyslaw Dziewulski investigated celestial mechanics, stellar kinematics, and Cepheid variable stars, and directed two observatories in his native land. He graduated from high school in Warsaw. Between the years 1897 and 1901, Dziewulski studied astronomy and majored in mathematics and physics at Warsaw University. He continued his astronomical studies under Karl Schwarzschild ’s guidance at Göttingen University (1902–1903 and 1907–1908). He was awarded his Ph.D. at Jagiellonian University (Cracow) in 1906, for investigations of the secular perturbations on minor planet (433) Eros.
Between 1903–1906 and 1908–1909, Dziewulski was an assistant at the Jagiellonian University Observatory. In 1909, he became an adjunct faculty member and a lecturer at the university (1916). In 1919, Dziewulski was appointed professor of astronomy at the Stefan Batory University in Vilnius, where he worked until the outbreak of World War II. In 1921, he built the first pavilion of the new observatory at Vilnius, where a Zeiss refractor was installed. Other purchases included an astrograph and a reflector equipped with a spectrograph. Dziewulski served as the observatory director and briefly as chancellor (1924/1925).
In 1945, Dziewulski and other officials established the new Nicholas Copernicus University at Torun. There, he directed its observatory and was appointed vice chancellor before retiring as professor emeritus in 1960.
Dziewulski’s doctoral thesis, “Perturbation of Mars in the Movement of Eros,” was the first such work to consider the influence of Mars, whereas before only perturbations caused by the jovian planets were considered. For many years, Dziewulski’s studies of the movement of minor planet (153) Hilda were regarded as a model. He likewise investigated the orbits of such minor planets as (13) Egeria, (133) Cyrene, (887) Alinda, and (1474) Beira.
During his stay in Göttingen, Dziewulski worked under Schwarzschild’s direction to produce a catalog of the photographic brightnesses of some 3,500 stars (the Göttinger Aktinometrie). Another large photometric work measured the brightnesses of stars near the North Celestial Pole. It became a standard reference that was used by many subsequent astronomers.
Dziewulski was also absorbed by stellar kinematics. He calculated the direction of movement of the Sun (the solar apex) and the movements of other nearby stars. In 1916, he devised an original method to calculate the vertices of movement of peculiar groups of stars.
At both Vilnius and Torun, Dziewulski systematically observed variable stars. In particular, he investigated the colors of Cepheid variables. From the corresponding temperature changes inferred in these stars, he offered an independent confirmation of the pulsation hypothesis.
While in Torun, Dziewulski was a key organizer of the astronomical observatory at Piwnice. A Draper astrograph became its first instrument. After Dziewulski’s death, a 60-cm Schmidt camera was installed at Piwnice.
Dziewulski was a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the British Astronomical Association, and the International Astronomical Union. In 1961, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Nicholas Copernicus University. A crater on the Moon has been named for him.