Bredikhin, Fedor

Bredikhin, Fedor Aleksandrovich


Born Nov. 26 (Dec. 8), 1831, in Nikolaev; died May 1 (14), 1904, in St. Petersburg. Russian astronomer. Academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1890; corresponding member, 1877).

Bredikhin graduated from Moscow University in 1855. In 1862 he defended his master’s dissertation, On the Tails of Comets, and three years later received his doctorate after having defended his dissertation, Perturbations of Comets That Are Not Dependent on the Gravitational Attraction of Planets. After his defense, he was appointed (1865) professor ordinarius at Moscow University; in 1873 he became director of the university’s observatory. Bredikhin’s research encompassed all the major areas of the astronomy of his time. In astrometry, he made observations on the meridian circle with exceptional accuracy, measured the positions of asteroids on a refractor with a micrometer, and studied errors of the micrometer screw and the so-called personal errors of the observer. In astrophysics, Bredikhin directly participated in initiating the first systematic observations of the sun’s chromosphere with the solar prominence-spectroscope, the photographing of sunspots and faculae, and investigations of the surface of Jupiter and Mars and the spectra of comets and nebulas. In gravimetry, he carried out studies of the rotary pendulum and of the deviation of the plumb line. At Moscow University, Bredikhin began and finished his famous studies of comets and meteors. In 1890 he was appointed director of the Central Russian Astronomical Observatory at Pulkovo. Under his direction at Pulkovo the program of both astronomical and astrophysical research was broadened and new instruments were built: the normal astrograph and spectrographs for the 38- and 76-cm refractors. He strove to attract astronomers to engage in timely scientific research and contributed to the choice of new themes in scientific work. In 1895, as a result of illness, Bredikhin left his position as director of the Pulkovo Observatory and moved from Pulkovo to St. Petersburg.

In 1864, Bredikhin actively contributed to the founding of the Moscow Mathematical Society and from 1886 to 1890 was president of the Society of Natural Scientists. He was a member of the Russian Astronomical Society (1890) and the Russian Geographical Society (1891). Bredikhin was also an active member of the Leopoldina German Academy of Natural Scientists in Halle (1883) and a corresponding member of the Royal Astronomical Society of England, the Liverpool Astronomical Society (1884), and the Society of Italian Spectroscopists. In 1946 the presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR instituted the F. A. Bredikhin Prize for outstanding work in the field of astronomy.


O khvostakh komet, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.
Etiudy o meteorakh. Moscow, 1954. (Contains a bibliography.)


Orlov, S. V. Fedor Aleksandrovich Bredikhin, 1831-1904. Moscow, 1948. (Contains a bibliography of all Bredikhin’s published works and of literature about him.)
Levin, B. Iu. “Fedor Aleksandrovich Bredikhin.” In Liudi russkoi nauki: Ocherki o vydaiushchikhsia deiateliakh estestvoznaniia i tekhniki. Matematika. Mekhanika. Astronomiia. Fizika. Khimiia. Moscow, 1961. Pages 141-51.
Zigel’, F. Iu. Fedor Aleksandrovich Bredikhin: Ego zhizn’ i deiatel’nost’. Moscow, 1957.