Pavel Karlovich Shternberg

Shternberg, Pavel Karlovich


Born Mar. 21 (Apr. 2), 1865, in Orel; died Feb. 1, 1920, in Moscow. Soviet astronomer; revolutionary figure. Member of the Communist Party from 1905.

The son of a small-scale contractor, Shternberg graduated from the physics and mathematics faculty at Moscow University in 1887. He was named a professor there in 1914 and became director of the Moscow Observatory in 1916.

Between 1905 and 1908, Shternberg was a member of a financial commission of the Moscow committee of the RSDLP and served in the committee’s military technical office. During the February Revolution of 1917 he was a member of the party’s Moscow committee, a member of the Central Headquarters of the Red Guard in the Moscow city soviet, and a member of the Moscow military revolutionary committee. He also directed combat operations in Zamoskvorech’e Raion.

After the October Revolution of 1917, Shternberg became a member of the presidium of the Moscow provincial executive committee and head of the provincial military committee. He served on the collegium of the People’s Commissariat for Education in 1918 and headed its department of higher educational institutions. Shternberg was chosen a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Second Army in September of that year and a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Eastern Front in October 1919.

Shternberg’s principal works dealt with gravimetry and photographic astrometry. He was one of the first to use photography in the measurement of binary stars, and he studied the motion of the earth’s poles. In 1931, the Institute of Astronomy at Moscow University was named for Shternberg.


Perel’, Iu. G. Vydaiushchiesia russkie astronomy. Moscow-Leningrad, 1951. Pages 141–75.
Kulikovskii, P. G. Pavel Karlovich Shternberg, 1865–1920. Moscow, 1965. (Contains bibliography.)