Ivan Mikhailovich Simon ov was the son of a provincial merchant. He entered the University of Kazan in 1808, at the then normal age of 14, on the strength of an aptitude for languages. There Martin Bartels, who also taught Carl Friedrich Gauss (at Brunswick) and Simonov’s classmate the mathematician Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevskii, noticed his talents for mathematics and the physical sciences and guided him towards astronomy. At that time the university had only 40 students, and there were fewer than 1,000 students attending the five universities in the Russian Empire, which had a population of about 45 million (Meyer, 1987: 48).1 After taking his master’s degree in 1812 Simonov became first an assistant lecturer and then in 1816 extraordinary (acting) professor of astronomy at Kazan, succeeding his teacher Joseph von Littrow. In 1817 he went to St Petersburg for further training under Academicians Fëdor Ivanovich Schubert and Vikentii Karlovich Vishnevskii, who recommended him, in 1819, for the post of astronomer with the Bellingshausen expedition (Simonov, 1844; 1955; Berezin, 1855; Baranov, 1904). It was a typical field appointment in the earth sciences, in which younger, unproven researchers have regularly been selected for the discomforts and opportunities of expeditions.


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