Dirk Brouwer was an astronomer whose specialty was celestial mechanics. In the astronomy profession he was called a celestial mechanician. Brouwer studied astronomy at the University of Leiden, and did his doctoral dissertation on data collected and observations made of the four large satellites of Jupiter. The observations and data were collected at the Union Observatory in Johannesburg, South Africa, between 1908 and 1925. His major advisor was professor de Sitter who was quite prominent in the field of astronomy, and whose specialty was celestial mechanics. Brouwer received his Ph. D. degree in astronomy from the University of Leiden in 1927.
Following the completion of his doctoral work, Brouwer joined the faculty of Yale University, eventually rising to Professor of Astronomy, and worked with Professor Ernest Brown, who had earned a Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society for his work in celestial mechanics. Brouwer continued his work on celestial mechanics and along the way wrote a widely used textbook on celestial mechanics, entitled, “Methods of Celestial Mechanics”.
From 1941 to 1966, Brouwer was the editor of the “Astronomical Journal”. He apparently made many contributions to the field of celestial mechanics because the Royal Astronomical Society awarded him the Gold Medal in 1951. The Society announced, upon the bestowal of the medal, that Brouwer was awarded the medal for his many outstanding contributions to celestial mechanics.
There is not much information available on what exactly were Brouwer’s contributions, but apparently one of the major contributions was made while Brouwer was still a student at the University of Leiden. Brouwer then was able to determine that the mass of Titan, a moon of Saturn, could be determined from its influence on other Saturnian moons.
Other contributions Brouwer made consisted of developing general methods for finding orbits and computing errors and then applying these methods to comets, asteroids and planets. All of this clearly required an enormous amount of computation, an activity which must have been nightmarish at best during the pre-computer period, when most of his initial work was done. Brouwer, as a result, was one of the first to introduce computers to the making of these astronomy computations.
During the early periods of the artificial satellites, Brouwer computed their orbits and from the data collected, was able to develop a better understanding and knowledge of the figure of planet earth.
In 1966, Brouwer was awarded the prestigious Bruce Medal posthumously. The Bruce Medal is one of the more prestigious medals in Astronomy. The Bruce Medal is awarded by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific [ASP], which was founded in San Francisco in 1889, in order to advance the science and knowledge of astronomy. Since 1898 the ASP has awarded the Bruce Medal annually to the most prestigious astronomer at that time.
Brouwer passed away on January 31, 1966, in the year he received the Bruce Medal. In 1978, the American Astronomical Society honored Brouwer posthumously by establishing the Dirk Brouwer Award. The Dirk Brouwer Award is awarded annually by the Division on Dynamical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society for outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of dynamical astronomy. Many prestigious astronomers in the field of dynamical astronomy have received the award annually since 1978.
Brouwer is remembered for two other astronomical discoveries during his lifetime career in astronomy. They are the “Brouwer Crater on the moon”, and the asteroid named “Asteroid 1746 Brouwer”.
The Bruce Medalists; Dirk Brouwer, 1966, www.phys-astro.sonoma.edu/BruceMedalists/Brouwer/Brouwer
Dirk Brouwer, www.answers.com/topic/dirk brouwer award
Dirk Brouwer Wikipedia
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