Johann Franz Encke

1791 (Hamburg, Germany) – 1865 (Spandau)

An eminent student of Gauss’s, Encke was recommended by Bessel as head of the Berlin observatory, to succeed Bode. He visited Herschel in England, was helped by Humboldt to get an improved observatory built outside Berlin, and told Gauss, Bessel and Olbers of his great discovery of a comet with an unexpectedly short orbital period. Airy, Babbage and Quetelet were correspondents. Encke only grudgingly allowed his assistant (and former student) Galle to search for a previously unknown planet, but as it was Encke’s birthday, he was otherwise engaged; Galle interrupted the party to tell him the great news.