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Ernst J. Öpik

AKA Ernst Julius Öpik

Born: 23-Oct-1893
Birthplace: Port-Kunda, Estonia, Russia
Died: 10-Sep-1985
Location of death: Bangor, Down, Northern Ireland
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Cremated, ashes buried in Ulster, Northern Ireland

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Astronomer

Nationality: Estonia
Executive summary: Andromeda Nebula

Military service: White Russian Army

Astronomer Ernst J. Ípik was the first scientist to calculate the density of a white dwarf, and the first to accurately determine Andromeda Nebula's distance from the Earth. He proposed that a cloud of comets circle the Solar System, and developed a theory to explain how dwarf stars evolve into giants. He also discovered the Yarkovsky effect, when he read an otherwise ignored paper written by amateur scientist Ivan Osipovich Yarkovsky, explaining a tiny but important physical force acting on asteroids.

For several years Ípik kept two households concurrently, living with his wife and children while working nights at the observatory with a woman who was his assistant, lover, and the mother of three more of his children. His grandson through his mistress, Lembit Opik, is a Member of British Parliament.

Father: Karl Heinrich Öpik (Russian Navy)
Sister: Anna Öpik (philologist)
Brother: Armin Alexander Öpik (palaeontologist, b. 1898, d. 1983)
Wife: Vera Oreshkina Öpik
Daughter: Elina
Daughter: Inna
Daughter: Maija
Mistress: Alide Piiri (research assistant, three children)
Daughter: Helgi
Daughter: Tiiu
Son: Uno

    High School: Tallinn High School, Tallinn, Estonia (1911)
    Scholar: Moscow Observatory, Moscow Imperial University (1912-16)
    University: PhD Astronomy, Moscow Imperial University (1916)
    Teacher: Tartu University (1921-44)
    Scholar: Harvard College Observatory, Harvard University (1930-34)
    Scholar: Armagh Observatory (1948-81)

    Bruce Medal 1976
    Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal 1975 (with Jesse L. Greenstein)
    Royal Society
    Royal Astronomical Society
    Asteroid Namesake 2099 Ípik
    Estonian Ancestry

Author of books:
Physics of Meteor Flight in the Atmosphere (1958)
Interplanetary Encounters: Close-Range Gravitational Interactions (1976)

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