Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 190-190

Date:

Beer, Wilhelm

  • Richard BaumAffiliated withUniversity of California, Irvine School of Physical Sciences Email author 

BornBerlin, (Germany), 4 January 1797

DiedBerlin, (Germany), 27 March 1850

Wilhelm Beer, a banker and amateur astronomer, is noted mainly for his contributions to the mapping of Mars and the Moon. Beer was the head of a family banking firm in Berlin, and half-brother of the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. Alexander von Humboldt introduced Wilhelm Beer to the astronomer Johann von Mädler, who became his friend and mentor. Beer established a small observatory with a 12-ft. dome at his villa in the Tiergarten of Berlin, where he installed a 3.75-in. Fraunhofer refracting telescope that he had purchased from another amateur astronomer, Johann W. Pastorff. With the telescope, Beer and Mädler made an excellent series of observations of Mars at its opposition of 1830 that led to the first map of its surface, and laid the foundation for modern study of the planet.

The names of Beer and Mädler are inseparably linked as joint authors of the epoch-making Mappa Selenographica (1834–1836), a chart in four ...

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