Julius Schmidt

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J. F. Julius Schmidt

(extended biography)

The lunar crater Schmidt is named after (among others) Johann Friedrich Julius Schmidt (October 25, 1825– February 7, 1884), generally referred to as "J.F.J." or "Julius" Schmidt.


The German-born Schmidt is noted for the dogged persistence by which he produced the most detailed lunar map of his day. His interest in the Moon is said to have been triggered by his encounter, at age 14, with a copy of Schröter's book. Although observing the Moon through a variety of telescope was a continuing interest throughout his life, Schmidt's main lunar work began in 1853 when he became director of a private observatory in Moravia. There he made 3,000 measurements of lunar heights, leading to publication of his 1856 Der Mond. Two years later he assumed the directorship of the Athens Observatory, a position he held until his death. In addition to his own work, Schmidt took an interest in publishing the remaining maps in Lohrmann's series from the 1820's, a project he completed in 1878, the same year the German government published his own massive map, following the same plan, but at twice the scale of Lohrmann's. Schmidt was also interested in volcanoes, earthquakes and weather.

Lunar Contributions

  • Schmidt's map is said (Dobbins and Sheehan, below) to be based on 2,731 drawings, and to record (by his own count) 32,856 craters (compared to 7,735 plotted by Beer and Mädler and 7,177 by Lohrmann). Schmidt also cataloged 348 rilles, compared to 71 for Beer and Mädler.
  • While in Bonn in the 1850's, Schmidt participated in the construction of a giant relief map (half-globe) of the Moon's visible hemisphere, described and illustrated in their 1925 leaflet issued by the Field Museum (Chicago). The vertical relief in this model is exaggerated by a factor of three compared to what Schmidt felt the correct relief to be.
  • Schmidt's reputation as a careful observer is somewhat clouded by the Linné affair in which, as evidence of changes occurring on the Moon, he announced to the world that this formerly clear crater had become obscured.
  • Names of J.F.J. Schmidt (an alphabetic overview of Schmidt's named lunar surface formations, explored and investigated by Ewen A. Whitaker, with additional research by Danny Caes).


  • J.F.J. Schmidt. Der mond (1856).
  • J.F.J. Schmidt. Über Rillen auf dem Monde (1866).
  • J.F.J. Schmidt. Die Charte der Gebrige des Mondes (1878) (Google Books).
    • Scanned copies of the 25 map sheets that accompany this book are available on this Wiki.
    • The book includes the key to names of the features labeled by numbers on the map, as well as the dates and times of Schmidt's observations of the region and the results of his height computations.
    • Scans of the maps and a condensed booklet that was sold with them are also available as ALPO Monograph Number 11 (the 20 MB file containing Sheet 1 includes an Introduction by John Westfall).


Biographical Resources

Web Links