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

Dembowski, Ercole

Reference work entry

Alternate Name

 Dembowski, Hercules

Born Milan, (Italy), 12 January 1812

Died Albizzate, (Lombardy), Italy, 19 January 1881

Baron Ercole Dembowski observed double stars with unprecedented accuracy, remeasuring almost all stars listed in the Dorpat Catalogue. His instructions and suggestions on how to measure double stars with the micrometer are still considered of great value for the observer.

The son of Giovanni Dembowski, a nobleman of Polish descent and general in the army of the Kingdom of Italy founded by Emperor Napoleon I, Ercole Dembowski was orphaned in 1825 at the age of 13. Dembowski enlisted in the Austrian Imperial Royal Navy, eventually rising to become a commissioned officer. He retired from the navy in 1843 for reasons of health and settled in Naples. In Naples, Dembowski met Antonio Nobile, an astronomer at the Capodimonte Observatory. Encouraged by Nobile, Dembowski purchased a 5-in refractor with which he started to measure double stars from his observatory in San Giorgio a Cremano, a Naples suburb.

In 1857, Dembowski published his first set of double star measures, a reobservation of stars in the Dorpat Catalogue. Other publications followed in 1860, 1864, and 1866. In 1870, Dembowski moved to Gallarate, between Milan and Varese, in northern Italy, where he made a complete revision of   Friedrich Struve ’s catalog by using an excellent 7-in Merz refractor. This catalog was published posthumously in 1883 in Rome. In 1879, Dembowski was forced to stop his observing because of frequent gout attacks.

In 1878, the Royal Astronomical Society awarded Dembowski its Gold Medal for his researches on double stars. A crater on the nearside of the Moon was named for him.

Selected References

  1. Aitken, R. G. (1935). The Binary Stars. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.MATHGoogle Scholar
  2. Dembowski, E. (1883). Misure micrometriche di stelle doppie e multiple fatte negli anni 1852–1878. Rome: Salviucci.Google Scholar
  3. Huggins, William (1878). “Address Delivered by the President, Mr. Huggins, on Presenting the Gold Medal of the Society to Baron Dembowski.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society38: 249–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MilanoItaly