Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Schmidt, Bernhard Voldemar

  • Christof A. Plicht
Reference work entry

BornIsland of Naissaar near Tallinn, (Estonia), 30 March 1879

DiedHamburg, Germany, 1 December 1935

German optician Bernhard Schmidt gave his name to a telescope type that permitted obtaining sharp images over a very wide field quickly. It involves a spherical primary mirror and a transparent corrector plate that largely removes the focus errors called coma and spherical aberration.

Schmidt was the first of five children of Karl Konstantin Schmidt and his wife, Maria Helene. His father was a writer, farmer, and fisherman on the island of Naissaar, in the Baltic Sea. Swedish was the language spoken on the island and in school, but at home the family spoke German. At the age of 15, Bernhard experimented with gunpowder and lost his right hand and forearm in an accident. This did not prove too much of a handicap, for later that year he built his own camera, photographed local people, and sold the pictures.

In 1895, Schmidt left Naissaar for Tallinn where he found work as a telegraph...

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Selected References

  1. Hodges, P. C. (1948). “Bernhard Schmidt and His Reflector Camera: An Astronomical Contribution to Radiology. Paper I.” American Journal of Roentgenology and Radium Therapy 59: 122–131.Google Scholar
  2. Marx, Sigfried and Werner Pfau (1992). Astrophotography with the Schmidt Telescope, translated by P. Lamble. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 54–65.Google Scholar
  3. Schmidt, Bernhard (1932). “A Fast, Coma-free Reflecting System.” Zentral-Zeitung für Optik un Mechanik 1, no. 2: 62–63. (A translation of this article, and of Richard Schorr’s letter transmitting it to the journal, appears in Marx and Pfau, pp. 156–157.)Google Scholar
  4. Schramm, Jochen (1996). Sterne über Hamburg: Die Geschichte der Astronomie in Hamburg. Hamburg: Kultur- und Geschichtskonto, pp. 209–220.Google Scholar
  5. Wachmann, A. A. (1995). “From the Life of Bernhard Schmidt.” Sky & Telescope 15, no. 1: 4–9.ADSGoogle Scholar
  6. Williams, Thomas R. (1997). “Schmidt Telescopes.” In History of Astronomy: An Encyclopedia, edited by John Lankford, pp. 445–447. New York: Garland.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arbeitsgemeinschaft Hildesheimer AmateurastronomenHildesheimGermany