Birthplace: Oslo, Norway
Location of death: Oslo, Norway
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Executive summary: Studied terrestrial magnetism
Norwegian astronomer and physicist, born at Christiania (now a part of Oslo) on the 26th of September 1784. From the cathedral school he went to the university at Copenhagen, where first law and afterwards mathematics formed his main study. In 1806 he taught mathematics in the gymnasium of Frederiksborg, Zeeland, and in the following year he began the inquiries in terrestrial magnetism with which his name is especially associated. He took in 1812 the prize of the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences for his reply to a question on the magnetic axes. Appointed lecturer in 1814, he was in 1816 raised to the chair of astronomy and applied mathematics in the University of Christiania. In 1819 he published a volume of researches on terrestrial magnetism, which was translated into German by P. T. Hanson, under the title of Untersuchungen über den Magnetismus der Erde, with a supplement containing Beobachtungen der Abweichung und Neigung der Magnetnadel and an atlas. By the rules there framed for the observation of magnetical phenomena Hansteen hoped to accumulate analyses for determining the number and position of the magnetic poles of the earth. In prosecution of his researches he travelled over Finland and the greater part of his own country; and in 1828-30 he undertook, in company with G. A. Erman, and with the cooperation of Russia, a government mission to Western Siberia. A narrative of the expedition soon appeared (Reise-Erinnerungen aus Sibirien, 1854; Souvenirs d'un voyage en Sibérie, 1857); but the chief work was not issued until 1863 (Resultate magnetischer Beobachtungen, etc.). Shortly nfter the return of the mission, an observatory was erected in the park of Christiania (1833), and Hansteen was appointed director. On his representation a magnetic observatory was added in 1839. In 1835-38 he published textbooks on geometry and mechanics; and in 1842 he wrote his Disquisitiones de mutationibus quas patitur momentum acus magneticae, &c. He also contributed various papers to different scientific journals, especially the Magazin for Naturvidenskaberne, of which he became joint-editor in 1823. He superintended the trigonometrical and topographical survey of Norway, begun in 1837. In 1861 he retired from active work, but still pursued his studies, his Observations de l'inclination magnétique and Sur les variations séculaires du magnétisme appearing in 1865. He died at Christiania on the 11th of April 1873.
University: University of Copenhagen
Professor: University of Christiania, Oslo (1814-)
Royal Society 1839
Lunar Crater Hansteen (11.5° S, 52.0° W, 45 km dia, 1.3 km depth)
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