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Hansteen, Christopher

HANSTEEN, CHRISTOPHER (1784-1873), Norwegian astronomer and physicist, was born at Christiania, 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 ilber den Magnelismus 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 1828-1830 he undertook, in company with G. A. Erman.and with the co-operation of Russia, a government mission to Western Siberia. A narrative of the expedition soon appeared (Reise-Erinnervngen aus Sibirien, 1854; Scvi/emrs d' un voyage en Siberie, 1857); but the chief work was not issued till 1863 (Resultate magnetischer Beobachtungen, etc.). Shortly after 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 1835-1838 he published text-books on geometry and mechanics; and in 1842 he wrote his Disquisiliones de mutationibus quas patitur momentum acus magneticae, etc. He also contributed various papers to different scientific journals, especially the Magazin for Natunidenskaberne, 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 I'inclination magnetique and Sur les variations seculaires du magnetisme appearing in 1865. He died at Christiania on the nth of April 1873.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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