Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 535-535


de Gasparis, Annibale

Alternate Name

Gasparis, Annibale de

Born Bugnara, (Abruzzo, Italy), 9 November 1819

Died Naples, Italy, 21 March 1892

Annibale de Gasparis was a professor, observatory director, and specialist on minor planets, of which he discovered nine. He was the son of Angelo de Gasparis and Eleonora Angelantoni. In 1838 he moved to Naples in order to attend the courses in the Scuola di ponti e strade(School of bridges and roads), an engineering university, but in 1840 he became alunno(student) at the observatory of Naples. In 1846 the University of Naples honored de Gasparis with a degree “ad honorem” for his studies on the orbit of the minor planet (4) Vesta, which had been discovered by Heinrich Olbers in 1807. In 1848, de Gasparis married Giuseppina Russo, and they had eight sons, of whom three died in infancy.

On 12 April 1849, de Gasparis discovered a new asteroid, one that he named Igea (or Hygiea) Borbonica (Borbonicain honour of Ferdinand II of the Borbones, then king of the two Sicilies). The grateful king awarded de Gasparis a life annuity. When the Borbones were dismissed, the asteroid’s attribute (Borbonica) and the life annuity disappeared. De Gasparis continued his research on minor planets and discovered (11) Parthenope and (13) Egeria (1850), (15) Eunomia (1851), (16) Psyche and (20) Massalia (1852), (24) Themis (1853), (63) Ausonia (1861), and (83) Beatrix (1865).

For these discoveries the Royal Astronomical Society made de Gasparis a member (in 1851) and awarded him a Gold Medal. In 1851 he became Professor of Astronomy in the University of Naples, and in 1864 he became director of the astronomical observatory of Naples.

De Gasparis published about 200 scientific papers on mathematics, celestial mechanics, astronomy (especially on Kepler’s problem), and meteorology. In 1861 he was appointed senator of the Kingdom of Italy. He was member of the Société Philomathique (Paris); Royal Astronomical Society (London); and the Academies of Naples, Modena, Turin, and many others. On his death de Gasparis was widely mourned for his humane qualities as well as his research.

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