Schwabe, Samuel Heinrich
BornDessau, (Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany), 25 October 1789
DiedDessau, (Sachsen-Anhalt), Germany, 11 April 1875
As an amateur lunar, planetary, and especially solar observer, Samuel Schwabe is best known for his discovery of the 11 year sunspot cycle. Schwabe was raised in a scientifically oriented home; his father was a prominent physician, while his maternal grandfather was a pharmacist named Haeseler. Apparently influenced by his grandfather, in 1806, Schwabe began an apprenticeship in a pharmacy in his hometown. During his later pharmaceutical studies in Berlin, he developed a lifelong interest in botany and took his first courses in astronomy.
After his grandfather’s death in 1812, Schwabe took over the family pharmacy and became wealthy. He acquired a telescope from a lottery in 1825, recording his first observation of the Sun on 30 October that same year. Acting on the suggestion of Karl Harding, Schwabe at first scoured the solar disk in search of an intra-Mercurial planet in...