HEINRICH WILHELM MATTHIAS OLBERS (1758-1840), German astronomer, was born on the 11th of October 1758 at Arbergen, a village near Bremen, where his father was minister.
Olbers settled as a physician in Bremen towards the end of 1781, and practised actively for above forty years, finally retiring on the 1st of January 1823.
Olbers was deputed by his fellow-citizens to assist at the baptism of the king of Rome on the 9th of June 1811, and he was a member of the corps legislatif in Paris 1812-1813.
Erman's Briefwechsel zwischen Olbers and Bessel (2 vols., Leipzig, 1852); Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (S.
The first two volumes of Dr C. Schilling's exhaustive work, Wilhelm Olbers, sein Leben and seine Werke, appeared at Berlin in 1894 and 1900, a third and later volume including his personal correspondence and biography.
As early as 1860 Newcomb communicated an important memoir to the American Academy, 4 On the Secular Variations and Mutual Relation of the Orbits of the Asteroids, in which he discussed the two principal hypotheses to account for the origin of these bodies - one, that they are the shattered fragments of a single planet (Olbers' hypothesis), the other, that they have been formed by the breaking up of a revolving ring of nebulous matter.
Olbers, who procured their publication (Monatliche Correspondenz, x.