© 2017

Studies of Pallas in the Early Nineteenth Century

Historical Studies in Asteroid Research


  • Continues the story of early asteroid discovery begun in other volumes, moving on from the discovery of Ceres to the discovery of Pallas, the second asteroid discovered

  • Includes the first English translations of multiple primary sources, including two major papers in Latin, one by Regner, the other by Gauss

  • Extensively examines the problem caused by the perturbations of Pallas' high orbital inclination, which led to Gauss' creation of the method of least squares


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 1-22
  3. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 23-52
  4. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 53-92
  5. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 93-104
  6. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 105-114
  7. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 115-148
  8. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 149-156
  9. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 157-214
  10. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 215-233
  11. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 235-269
  12. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 271-410
  13. Clifford J. Cunningham
    Pages 411-447
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 449-477

About this book


Based on extensive primary sources, many never previously translated into English, this is the definitive account of the discovery of Pallas as it went from being classified as a new planet to reclassification as the second of a previously unknown group of celestial objects. Cunningham, a dedicated scholar of asteroids, includes a large set of newly translated correspondence as well as the many scientific papers about Pallas in addition to sections of Schroeter's 1805 book on the subject.

It was Olbers who discovered Pallas, in 1802, the second of many asteroids that would be officially identified as such. From the Gold Medal offered by the Paris Academy to solve the mystery of Pallas' gravitational perturbations to Gauss' Pallas Anagram, the asteroid remained a lingering mystery to leading thinkers of the time. Representing an intersection of science, mathematics, and philosophy, the puzzle of Pallas occupied the thoughts of an amazing panorama of intellectual giants in Europe in the early 1800s.


19th Century Astronomy Asteroid Discovery Asteroids in Solar System Celestial Mechanics of Asteroids Discovery of Pallas First Asteroids Foreign Astronomy Gravitational Perturbation and Pallas Historical Astronomy Olbers

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Fort LauderdaleUSA

About the authors

Clifford J. Cunningham did his Ph.D. work in the history of astronomy at James Cook University and the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, and he is affiliated with the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand. He has written or edited 13 books on the history of astronomy, and his papers have been published in many major journals, including Annals of Science, Journal for the History of Astronomy, Culture & Cosmos, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia, The Asian Journal of Physics and The Milton Quarterly. Asteroid (4276) was named Clifford in his honor by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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