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Willem de Sitter

Willem de Sitter
Born (1872-05-06)6 May 1872
Died 20 November 1934(1934-11-20) (aged 62)
Nationality Dutch
Fields physics
Alma mater Groningen University
Known for de Sitter universe

Willem de Sitter (6 May 1872 – 20 November 1934) was a Dutch mathematician, physicist and astronomer.


  • Life and work 1
    • Family 1.1
    • Honours 1.2
  • See also 2
  • Selected Publications 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5
    • Obituaries 5.1

Life and work

Born in Sneek, De Sitter studied mathematics at the University of Groningen and then joined the Groningen astronomical laboratory. He worked at the Cape Observatory in South Africa (1897–1899). Then, in 1908, de Sitter was appointed to the chair of astronomy at Leiden University. He was director of the Leiden Observatory from 1919 until his death.

De Sitter made major contributions to the field of physical cosmology. He co-authored a paper with Albert Einstein in 1932 in which they discussed the implications of cosmological data for the curvature of the universe. He also came up with the concept of the de Sitter space and de Sitter universe, a solution for Einstein's general relativity in which there is no matter and a positive cosmological constant. This results in an exponentially expanding, empty universe. De Sitter was also famous for his research on the planet Jupiter.

Einstein, Ehrenfest, De Sitter, Eddington & Lorentz in Leiden (1923)

Willem de Sitter died after a brief illness in November 1934.[1][2][3]


One of his sons, Ulbo de Sitter (1902–1980) was a Dutch geologist, and one of his sons is the Dutch sociologist Ulbo de Sitter (1930–2010). Another son Aernout de Sitter (1905 – 15 September 1944[4]), was director of the Bosscha Observatory in Lembang, Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies), where he studied the M4 globular cluster.


In 1912 he became member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[5]


Named after him

See also

Selected Publications

  • On the bearing of the Principle of Relativity on Gravitational Astronomy, 1911, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 71, p. 388–415
  • A proof of the constancy of the velocity of light, 1913, Proceedings of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1913, 15 II: 1297–1298
  • Ein astronomischer Beweis für die Konstanz der Lichtgeschwindigkeit, 1913, Physikalische Zeitschrift, 14: 429
  • On the constancy of the velocity of light, 1913, Proceedings of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1913, 16 I: 395-396
  • Über die Genauigkeit, innerhalb welcher die Unabhängigkeit der Lichtgeschwindigkeit von der Bewegung der Quelle behauptet werden kann, 1913, Physikalische Zeitschrift, 14: 1267


  1. ^ Obituary Notes of Astronomers at
  2. ^ 1947BAN....10..287D Page 287 at
  3. ^ Adriaan, Blaauw (2004). "MY CRUISE THROUGH THE WORLD OF ASTRONOMY". Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 42 (1): 1–37.  
  4. ^ Obituary Notes of Astronomers at
  5. ^ "Willem de Sitter (1872 - 1934)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 

External links

  • .  
  • P.C. van der Kruit Willem de Sitter (1872 – 1934) in: History of science and scholarship in the Netherlands.
  • A. Blaauw, Sitter, Willem de (1872–1934), in Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland.
  • Bruce Medal page
  • (1931) 12543Awarding of Bruce Medal: PASP
  • (1931) 42291Awarding of RAS gold medal: MNRAS
  • de Sitter's binary star arguments against Ritz's relativity theory (1913) (four articles)


  • (1934) 495/496253AN (one line)
  • (1935) 129JRASC
  • (1935) 34395MNRAS
  • (1935) 2258Obs
  • (1934) 36846PASP (one paragraph)
  • (1935) 6547PASP
  • Eleanor Kanegis Levin, artist and gallery owner, dies at 82 – The Boston Globe at (Eleanor Kanegis Levin)
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