In 1838, Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel won the race to measure the first distance to a star other than our Sun via the trigonometric parallax – setting the first scale of the Universe.
Recently, Mark Reid and Karl Menten, who are engaged in parallax measurements at radio wavelengths, revisited Bessel’s original publications on “his” star, 61 Cygni, published in the Astronomische Nachrichten
(Astronomical Notes). While they could generally reproduce the results obtained by Bessel and two contemporary 19th century astronomers, the eminent Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve and Thomas Henderson, they discovered why some of these early results were statistically inconsistent with modern measurements.
Out of reverence for Bessel, Reid and Menten decided to publish their findings also in the Astronomische Nachrichten
. Founded in 1821, it was one of the first astronomical journals in the world and is the oldest that is still being published.