von Zach, Baron Franz Xaver

Baron Franz Xaver von Zach (June 4, 1754 ““ September 2, 1832) was a Hungarian astronomer born in Pest most remembered for his efforts in search of the “missing planet”, writing Tables of the Sun, and serving as Editor on 3 major scientific journals.

Before moving to London in 1783, Zach served time in the Austrian army. He lived in London for 3 years employed as house tutor to the Saxon minister, Count Brühl. Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg appointed Zach in 1786 as director of the new observatory on the Seeberg at Gotha, which was completed in 1791. The prediction by the Titius-Bode law between Mars and Jupiter of a “missing plant,” sparked intrigue in Zach and by the end of the 18th century he had organized a group of 24 astronomers to systematically search for the planet. Ceres was an accidental planet discovery during the course of the search.

Zach wrote geographically related works, specifically on the geographical positions of many towns and places, which he concluded on his travels with a sextant. His book entitled Tables of the Sun, published in 1792, was one of his most popular works.

He is most remembered, however, for his significant role as editor of three invaluable scientific journals including, Allgemeine Geographische Ephemeriden (4 vols., Gotha, 1798-1799), Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmels-Kunde (28 vols., Gotha, 1800-1813, from 1807, and Correspondance astronomique, geographique, hydrographique, et statistique (Genoa, 1818-1826, 14 vols., and one number of the 15th, the suppression of which was instigated by the Jesuits).

Asteroid 999 Zachia is named in his honor, as well as the crater Zach on the Moon. He established an astronomical station near Marseille that Asteroid 64 Angelina is named after.

He died in Paris on September 2, 1832.