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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 61
August 12, 1897-April 6, 1963
BY KEVIN KRISCIUNAS
''WORK WAS THE MOTTO of the whole of life. In a letter [we find] the following passage: The Struves cannot live happily without unceasing work, since from the earliest youth we have been persuaded that it is the most useful and best seasoning of human life.''1 Easily counted as one of the prominent astronomers of his century, Struve left a standard that many sought to emulate but few achieved.
The Struve I have just described is not the Otto Struve of this memoir, but his great-grandfather Wilhelm Struve (1793-1864). Yet the words apply equally well. The first of seven Struves in five generations to obtain a Ph.D. (or its equivalent) in astronomy,2 in 1839 Wilhelm Struve founded Pulkovo Observatory near St. Petersburg, which has played a major role in positional astronomy ever since. 3 Wilhelm was one of the first three astronomers to measure the trigonometric parallax of a star—the final proof of Copernicanism. He published 272 works4 and had eighteen children.5
Of the six Struves who pursued a career in astronomy,6 four won the prestigious Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society: great-grandfather Wilhelm in 1826, grandfather Otto Wilhelm in 1850, uncle Hermann in 1903, and our Otto in 1944. Such a level of recognition in astronomy