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Science & Technology

Otto Struve – a Warrior and Stargazer
 
Otto Lyudvigovich Struve was born in Kharkov, then Russian Empire, in a veritable dynasty of astronomers.
 
His father, his uncle and his grandfather were scientists of note, who had dedicated themselves to the study of the stars, and his great-grandfather Vasily Struve founded the very first observatory in Russia, the Pulkovo observatory.
 
No wonder Otto treaded the path of his famous ancestors, entering the Kharkov university to become an astronomer.
 
His studies were interrupted by the Great war – Struve volunteered and became an artillerist, went through the whole of the war and then returned to Kharkov to finish his education and, at the request of the dean, continue academic work, receive a professor's degree and even head the Laboratory of fine mechanics at the University.
 
In 1919 he entered the White Army that entered the city, and later took part in the battles of the Russian Civil war, fighting for the Drozdov Corps, the bravest and steadiest of all the detachments of the White Army.
 
In 1921 he was evacuated from the Crimea to the United States, coming to the Ellis Island in his tattered military uniform.
 
Having settled in the US, he enters the Chicago university, obtains a degree in astrophysics and begins his scientific career. What's more, he completely integrates into the American scientific society and even becomes the Editor-In-Cheif of the  Astrophysical Journal, while also heading several of the country's biggest observatories from 1932 until 1959!
 
At first day he arrived in University in pretty extravagant outfit: blue trousers, brown coat and bright green hat.
 
The scientific work of the illustrious immigrant was acknowledged and recognized with a dozen of national and international awards. He was also accepted into the American Academy of Sciences. Later, a crater on the Moon and a small planet between the Earth and Mars were named after Struve.
 
In 1952 he proposes a cutting-edge (for the time) idea of detecting planets around other suns using the Doppler method.
 
Then the idea could not find considerable practical use – existence of planets outside the solar system was still a questionable idea, not widely supported by the scientific community.  But in recent years his method has helped find 548 exoplanets in total.
 
His health undermind by wounds and hardship,Struve died at the age of only 66, and was interred in Berkely, California, where he had spent the last years of his illustrious career and life.
 
Sources: 
NNDB tracking the entire world
The Royal Society Publishing. Biographical Memoirs
The Worlds of David Darling/ Encyclopedia od schience
The Bruce Medalist list

 


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