Johann Elert Bode, a German astronomer, born in Hamburg, Jan. 19,1747, died in Berlin, Nov. 23, 1826. While a boy he made a telescope for himself, and converted his father's garret into an observatory. He published in early life a paper on a solar eclipse, and a popular introduction to astronomy. In 1772 he was chosen astronomer to the Berlin academy of sciences. His "Astronomical Almanac" (Astronomische Jahrbiicher), of which 54 volumes appeared at Berlin from 1776 to 1829, was continued by Encke. His Uranographia contains observations on 17,240 stars, 12,000 more than were contained in any previous chart. - The name of Bode's law has been given to a symmetrical relation or progression in the distances of the planets from the sun. To 4 add 3 multiplied by 2 once, twice, thrice, etc, and the sums multiplied by 9,500,000 will give the distances of the successive planets from the sun. The progression is merely that of the numbers 4, 4 + 3, 4 + 0, 4 + 12, etc. This rule fails in the case of Neptune, the interval between its orbit and that of Mercury being but little more than one half larger than that between Uranus and Mercury. A similar progression is observed in the distances of the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn from those planets.
The merit of discovering this law is not wholly Bode's. It is a modification of one previously announced by Kepler.