Friday, August 14, 2009 | By: Rudi Butt

Director of the Hong Kong Observatory

William Doberck (杜伯克); born in 1952 at Copenhagen, died in 1914 at Sutton, Surrey; Director of the Hong Kong Observatory between 1883 and 1907; well known as one of the most enthusiastic and assiduous of workers in the field of double-star astronomy.

Extracts from 'William Doberck - double star astronomer' by Kevin P. MacKeown - The Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System,

"After taking a PhD in astronomy at the University of Jena in 1873, William Doberck accepted a position as superintendent of Markree Observatory in the west of Ireland. There he refurbished the great 13-inch refractor and spent nine years observing mostly double star systems, paying only such attention to meteorological monitoring as was required of his position. In 1883 he became the founding Director of a new observatory in Hong Kong, a post which he held for 24 years. His frustrations in attempting to continue his purely astronomical work, not assuaged by his combative and prickly personality, and in the face of the strictly practical demands of that mercantile society for comprehensive storm forecasting, are described. Finally, his observations in retirement in England, and his overall contribution to astronomy, are
summarised."


A double star, in observational astronomy, is a pair of stars that appear close to each other in the sky as seen from Earth when viewed through an optical telescope. This can happen either because the pair forms a binary system of stars in mutual orbit, gravitationally bound to each other, or because it is an optical double, a chance alignment of two stars in the sky that lie at different distances. Binary stars are important to stellar
astronomers as knowledge of their motions allows direct calculation of stellar mass and other stellar parameters.




Aerial photo of HKO in 1950's

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