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Karl Kreil

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Austrian meteorologist and astronomer, b. at Ried, Upper Austria, 4 Nov., 1798; d. at Vienna, 21 Dec., 1862. He received his early education at the Benedictine Abbey of Kremsmünster, under the noted astronomer P. Boniface Schwarzenbrunner. There he joined in the work at the observatory. He studied law for financial reasons, but, in 1823, decided to give it up and to devote himself exclusively to the mathematical and physical sciences. In 1827 he became assistant at the observatory of the Vienna University, then, 1831, adjunct at the observatory de La Brera of Milan. In 1838 he was transferred to the Prague Observatory, of which he became director in 1845. He found this observatory in a very poor condition and was therefore obliged to confine his work more and more to terrestrial observations. He introduced into Austria the study of a new science, that of terrestrial physics. The necessary instruments he obtained by personal privations and persistent efforts. He organized a rational system of magnetic and meteorological observations, which soon placed Prague in the same class with such observatories as that of Göttingen, which was richly endowed and which was directed by the great Gauss.

The emperor conferred upon him the cross of Knight of the Order of Francis Joseph. A member of the Imperial Academy of Vienna since its foundation in 1847, he submitted to it his plans for the establishment of a central station for magnetic and meteorological observations in Austria. This was realized at Vienna in 1851. He was made the first director and at the same time became professor of physics at the University of Vienna. His systematic observations, begun at Milan and Prague, soon extended first over Bohemia and later over the entire empire to the shores of the Adriatic, as well as to Turkey and the Black sea. His religious convictions were very pronounced, and, far from clashing with his scientific occupations, they added a new force to them. He contributed a number of papers and reports to the Academy, improved magnetic apparatus, and constructed some self-registering meteorological instruments. The work at Prague was published in eleven volumes, 1839-1850, under the title of "Magnet. und Meteorolg. Beob. zu Prag."

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Other publications are: "Cenni storici e teoretici sulle comete" (Milan, 1832); "Beob. über den grossen Kometen von 1843" (Prague, 1843); "Natur und Bewegung der Kometen" (Prague, 1843); "Magn. und geogr. Ortsbestimmungen in Oesterr. Kaiserthum" (5 vols., Vienna, 1846-1851); "Anleitung zu magn. Beobachtungen" (2nd ed., Vienna, 1858); "Horizontale Komponente der magnetischen Erdkraft" (Vienna, 1853). He edited "Astronomisch-meteorologisches Jahrbuch für Prag" (Prague, 1842-1845) and also "Jahrbücher der Zentral-anstalt für Meteorologie und Erdmagnetismus" (1849-1862).

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