Gothard Jenő (1857-1909)

Jeno Gothard was a wealthy Hungarian nobleman who established a private observatory in Herény. He was also a mechanical engineer and astronomer.

Cited from the text of Gothard exhibition (see link below): "By successfully applying photography in astronomy, Jenő Gothard entered the history of science for ever. For example, he managed to produce a world-famous series of photos of the partial solar eclipse on 16 May 1882.

After 1883, he turned his attention to the examination of the spectrum of the ß Lyrae. In his observations he pointed out the periodical appearance and disappearance of hydrogen and helium lines. However, his discovery did not get any attention, as there was no sufficient astronomical background for the interpretation of the phenomenon, which gained significance only later. In the scientific community of the turn of the century he attracted attention to his spectroscopic examinations of comets. He photographed a comet invisible for the naked eye for the first time (Barnard-Hartwig Comet, 1886).

Nova auriga
The spectra of Nova Aurigae and some planetary nebulae

From 1885 on, he almost completely abandoned visual observations and turned to the new technologies of the age, spectrography and astrophotography. In 1885, he recorded a supernova in the Andromeda Galaxy.

From 1886 on he was completely engaged in spectralphotometric examination of clusters, comets and gaseous nebulae. In the autumn of 1886, he was the first to detect the central star of the Ring Nebula (M57) by means of photography.

Until 1891, during the first 10 years after foundation, Gothard worked successfully in the field of spectroscopy and astrophotography.

In 1892, while studying the spectrum of Novae Aurigae, he revealed a principal connection between novas and planetary nebulae. He convincingly proved that "... the spectrum of the nova is identical to the spectrum of planetary nebulae" (Jenő Gothard: Értekezések a Matamatikai Tudományok Köréből, 1892). This discovery was the most outstanding result of his work. His result is regarded by experts worldwide as one of the predecessors of theories on the later stages of stellar evolution."

In Hungary the Hungarian Numismatic Society issued a silver and a bronze medal for the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The obverse shows the famous Hungarian astronomer Jeno Gothard who died 100 years ago in 1909. Beside the portrait of Gothard one of his greatest discovery depicted. In 1892 he discovered that the spectra of Nova Aurigae is very similar to the spectra of planetary nebula. His drawing from his logbook is replicated on the medal (see the box right).

The horizontal lines are the spectra of different planetary nebulae while the last line is the spectra of the Nova Aurigae. Above it his autograph and is name is visible. The artist was Csóka Zsuzsa. Her signature is visible at the left near the shoulder of Gothard. Below him is the dates of his birth and death. At the bottom the letters MNT refers to the Hungarian Numismatic Society.


The reverse shows the well known logo of IYA2009. The logo has the Hungarian legend, while around the rim the English legend: "INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ASTRONOMY".

Bronze version of this coin was also issued.

2009hatlap 22009elolap 2

Since there are just only 200 pieces have been issued from bronze and only 40 from silver, this medallion is sort of rarest among all IYA2009 souvenirs/ legacies. The silver items were available especially for the members of the Hungarian Numismatic Society, who have prepaid for the medal. The medals were minted by Szabó Mint, Szeged, Hungary.