Space. The final frontier…for psychologists?

It turns out that asteroid “635 Vundtia” was named for none other than psychology’s own Wilhelm Wundt, a man perhaps best known among students in History of Psychology for his opening of a psychological laboratory at the University of Leipzig in 1879. 635 Vundtia was discovered in 1907 and named by Karl Lohnert – an astronomer AND an experimental psychologist.

A paper by Lutz D. Schmadel and Susanne Guski-Leinwand in Acta Historica Astronomiae (vol. 43, pp. 335-350) provides a biography of Lohert and his discovery. The abstract reads:

Karl Julius Lohnert (1885-1944) with his double biography as astronomer and psychologist is hardly known in both fields. As a student of astronomy in Heidelberg, Lohnert discovered a couple of minor planets and he dedicated one to his PhD supervisor, the famous Leipzig professor for philosophy, Wilhelm Wundt. This connection is discussed for the first time almost one century after the naming of (635) Vundtia. The paper elucidates some biographical stations of Lohnert.

The news that an asteroid had been named for Wundt (my thanks to Ludy Benjamin of Texas A&M University for this info!) made me wonder what else in the sky was named for psychologists – turns out there are several others who have been commemorated in the same way:

  • 11518 Adler is named for Alfred Adler
  • 4343 Freud is named for Sigmund Freud
  • 1007 Pawlowia is named for Ivan Pavlov
  • Wikipedia actually has a great list by discipline of the names of those for whom minor planets have been named that can be found here (although I note that psychology is lumped under “other science”)

About Jennifer Bazar

Jennifer Bazar is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. Her research focuses on the history of psychiatric institutionalization.