Dimenzió #20


(csillagászattörténet, csillagászat, űrkutatás, fizika, asztrofizika)


   Lajos Terkán, astronomer, after whom the Public Observatory of his native
town is named, was born in Székesfehérvár on 26th April 1877. His father was
a  craftsman who had got the secondary school-leaving certificate - this was
unusual   at   that  ti-me.  Lajos  Terkán  went  to  a  primary  school  in
Székesfehérvár, to a secondary school in Székesfehérvár and in Győr.

   Terkán  learned  Mathematics  and  Physics at Pázmány Péter University in
Budapest,  where  he  attended the fascinating lectures of Radó Kövesligethy
with great interest, head of the Institute of Cosmography.

   In  1900,  after finishing the university, Terkán started to work for the
observatory   of   Miklós  Konkoly-Thege  in  Ógyalla  (today  Hurbanovo  in
Slovakia).  This  observatory  was the main place of his scientific activity
which  was  broken  by the first world war. He served as a soldier from 1914
until 1918, than he returned to Ógyalla.

   However,  after  the  war  Ógyalla became territory of Czehoslovakia. The
director of the observatory, Antal Tass and Lajos Terkán saved and moved the
telescopes,  instruments  and  the library to Budapest, where they founded a
new  observatory  on a hill named Svábhegy. It was opened in 1928 after four
years  of construction works. Terkán worked in different areas of astronomy.
He  made  photometric  observations  and  also  dealt  with  the theoretical
questions  connected  to  them.  He  observed  variable stars using Zöllner-
astrophotometer.  He  published  papers  about  the theory of refraction and
extinction and also about the determination of the temperature of stars from
photometric measurements.

   Terkán  lead  also  simultaneous  meteor observations and dealt with some
problems  of celestial mechanics as well. He was interested in observing the
Sun,  its  rotation and the direction of motion of the Solar System. In 1910
he  observed  Halley's Comet. He also delivered a popularizing lecture about
the comet in his native Székesfehérvár.

   In  1912  he  became  privat-docent  of  Pázmány Péter University. Terkán
published  45  papers  before the first world war and only 13 after the war,
because the foundation, instrumentation, installation of the new observatory
took   the   greatest  part  of  his  energy.  However,  he  determined  the
geographical  latitude of the observatory, measured the pole fluctuation and
dealt  with  the  research  of  asteroids. Terkán retired in 1936 and taught
mathematics in the college of Jesuits. He died of cancer in 1940, at the age
of 63.
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