Dmitry Dmitrievich Maksutov (1896-1964) - Soviet scientist, optician, corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1946). Inventor of the meniscus optical system that bears his name, which is now widely used in telescope construction. Laureate of two Stalin Prizes.


Born on April 11 according to the Julian calendar of 1896 in Odessa in a family of landless nobles from the princely family of Maksutovs.

DD Maksutov za raschjotami. 1950 e gody

  • Father Captain 1st Rank D. D. Maksutov (senior).
  • Grandfather Rear Admiral D.P. Maksutov.
  • Mother - Maksutova (nee - Efremova) Elena Pavlovna, housewife.

He became interested in astronomy since childhood, having received a marine telescope as a gift from his grandfather, and then got acquainted with the articles on making telescopes "with his own hands" by the famous self-taught optician A. A. Chikin. As a schoolboy, he independently built two reflector telescopes with mirrors 180 and 210 mm in diameter, with the help of which he observed the starry sky. At the age of 15, he was elected a member of the Russian Astronomical Society, a branch of which operated in Odessa.

Following a family tradition, he studied at the Odessa Cadet Corps, but even there he did not abandon his passion for astronomy - in high school he was in charge of an observatory with a 175-mm refractor and conducted practical classes with students in cosmography. After graduation in 1913 he entered the Nikolaev Engineering School in St. Petersburg. After one and a half years of study, having received the rank of second lieutenant, he took a 3-month course in radiotelegraphy at the Officer Electrotechnical School.

In 1915, Maksutov, along with other cadets, was sent to the Caucasian Front, served as the head of the equestrian radio station. He distinguished himself in battles, was awarded, received the rank of lieutenant of the engineering troops.

In 1916, he volunteered for the Caucasian School of Military Pilots in Tiflis, a year later, in December 1917, he narrowly escaped death when, during a training flight, the plane on which he flew crashed. As a result of a fall from a great height, he was wounded and concussed, and was declared disabled.

After being discharged from the Tiflis hospital, Maksutov tried to emigrate through Siberia, Manchuria and China to the United States, with the goal of going to work at the Mount Wilson Observatory for the famous American telescope designer George Ritchie. Having hardly reached Harbin in January 1918, he was arrested (he was driving with forged documents), a month after the identification of his identity, he was released, he lived on odd jobs for a year and a half, and in 1919 he was forced to return due to health problems and lack of funds. In Tomsk, as a former officer, he was mobilized into the Russian army to work at a radiotelegraph base, but did not begin service.

In 1920, after the arrival of the Reds, he immediately entered the 3rd year of the Faculty of Chemistry of the Tomsk Technological Institute. After studying for 8 months, at the invitation of the director of the GOI D.S.Rozhdestvensky, he went to work in the optical workshop of the institute under the supervision of A.A. By this time, his father and younger brother, fearing the new government, managed to move to France and later to the United States.

From 1921 to 1927 he taught physics and mathematics at military schools in Odessa.

In 1927-1930 he worked as a researcher and head of the optical workshop at the Scientific Research Institute of Physics at the II Mechnikov OSU.

In early 1930, during another "purge" he was arrested, and a month after interrogation he was released without charge.

On November 1, 1930, he again entered GOI (assistant, physicist, group leader), where he organized and in 1933 headed the laboratory of astronomical optics as part of the Optical Engineering Department under the leadership of V.P. Linnik. In 1935, by a resolution of the Higher Attestation Commission, he was approved in the academic rank of a full member of the GOI.

In March 1938, he was arrested on a standard charge of espionage and sabotage (allegedly unreasonably rejecting glass blanks for 810-mm lensthan discredited domestic factories), in December of the same year was released "for the termination of the case" and returned to work at the institute.

In 1941, by the decision of the Higher Attestation Commission, Maksutov was awarded the degree of Doctor of Technical Sciences on the basis of a set of published works without defending a thesis.

From September 1941 he worked in Yoshkar-Ola, where the GOI was evacuated during the war. In 1944, Maksutov was awarded the title of professor. For the period from August 1944 to March 1945 he was sent to the Academy of Sciences to determine the nomenclature and technical conditions of the astronomical instruments being developed. In 1946 he was elected a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the Department of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (Astronomical Optics). From 1952 until the end of his life he headed the department of astronomical instrumentation at the Main Astronomical Observatory of the USSR Academy of Sciences (Pulkovo).

In 1962 he was elected a deputy of the Leningrad City Council of Working People's Deputies.

He died suddenly on August 12, 1964 in Leningrad. He was buried at the cemetery of the Pulkovo Observatory.

Scientific contribution

In 1923-1924 Maksutov, not being familiar with the works of Chretien, K. Schwarzschild and others on aplanatic systems due to his isolation from foreign scientific literature, considered the general properties of two-mirror optical systems and found a number of aplanatic combinations that generalized the optical systems described before him. Having resumed his activities at GOI in 1930, Maksutov completed and completed the work. Now he has already considered not only all possible combinations of the parameters of optical systems, but also all the advantages and disadvantages of the found aplanatic combinations. The method for studying mirrors proposed by him has found application in the process of manufacturing large-sized reflectors, for example, a telescope with a mirror diameter of 400 mm for the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory. Usually, to control a parabolic mirror, an additional flat mirror of the same diameter as the tested one was used, and for the manufacture of a flat mirror, in turn, a spherical one of the same size was required, which, naturally, greatly complicated and made the work more expensive. The compensation method made it possible to use one concave spherical mirror of a much smaller diameter than the parabolic one under test. Later, this method was used in the manufacture of a 2,6-meter reflector mirror named after Acad. GA Shaina of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. In addition to theoretical studies, Maksutov calculated a single-lens eyepiece without a difference in chromatic magnification, received in 1928, together with GD Feldstein, a patent for an apparatus for photographing the stomach ("Photogastrograph"), developed the so-called "needle microscope" for in vivo study of human internal organs , received several copyright certificates for inventions.

In the early 1930s, he developed methods and instruments for precision control of the uniformity and flux of large (about 800 mm) optical glass blanks of the "krona" and "flint" brands at the initial stage of their processing. The work was carried out in the interest of creating the largest lens by the standards of lens optics with a diameter of 800 mm for a refractor intended for installation at the Pulkovo Observatory. The refractor was ordered by the tsarist government to the well-known English firm Grebb-Parsons even before the First World War, but, having manufactured and delivered a telescope mount to Pulkovo, the firm refused to create a lens. Interrupted by the Second World War, the most difficult work on the manufacture of the lens was carried out at the State Optical Institute under the leadership of Maksutov in the late 1940s. The refractor, however, was never built, since all of its mechanics were lost during the war, like the 760-mm refractor from Clark's company (the observatory employees managed to save only the lens). For various reasons, the restoration of refractors was deemed impractical, and both unique lenses were added to the observatory museum.

In 1934, Maksutov improved the "shadow method" of studying the shape of the surface of mirrors, turning it from qualitative to quantitative. Possessing vast practical experience, Maksutov personally made many high-precision optical parts - lenses, mirrors, prisms of various sizes and purposes, and presented his experience in a number of publications. With his direct participation, the main parabolic 500-mm mirror for the horizontal solar telescope, installed in 1940 at the Pulkovo Observatory, was created. The issues of creating telescopes of various types are considered in his publications.

Meniscus systems

In 1941, Maksutov invented the meniscus system, which was destined to play an important role in the development of optical instrumentation. He made this most important invention of his, as he later wrote, "... in early August 1941, during the evacuation (GOI) from Leningrad and somewhere on the way between Murom and Arzamas." The invention, however, was not accidental. Previously, he worked on the optimal design of a small ("school") telescope for astronomy and school enthusiasts. The telescope had to combine good image quality, simplicity of design, low cost of manufacture and a long service life. A reflector with a spherical mirror and a sealed tube was the closest to these conditions. After analyzing all possible options, he came to the idea that the protective window of the telescope can be made in the form of an achromatic meniscus, capable of compensating for the negative aberration of a spherical mirror with its positive aberration.

Arriving on August 11 in Yoshkar-Ola, where the GOI was located, Maksutov calculated the optical system of the first meniscus telescope with a mirror with a diameter of 100 mm and a 20-fold magnification, which was manufactured and successfully tested a month later. In less than a year, he calculated many other meniscus systems - telescopes, micro-lenses, as well as meniscus searchlights, spectrograph, goniometer, a device for studying inhomogeneities in glass blanks, and others, submitted a monograph for publication and sent an article to JOSA for the acquaintance of foreign specialists. Later, he detailed his experience in reducing residual aberrations of lens and meniscus lenses through retouching.

Due to its advantages - aperture ratio, a sufficiently large field of view, high image quality, the absence of intractable contamination of the main mirror and relative compactness - meniscus systems quickly gained wide acceptance in a wide variety of versions. Maksutov showed the possibility of converting the well-known schemes of mirror telescopes into meniscus - Gregory, Newton, Herschel, Cassegrain, mirror-lens Schmidt and others. He also did not forget the "ancestor" of all these systems - the school meniscus telescope, which had been produced in several modifications since 1946 for many years.

During the Second World War, Maksutov developed compact long-focus telephoto lenses for ground photography of distant objects on enemy territory. In the post-war period, on their basis, he designed photographic lenses of the MTO family with focal lengths of 250, 500 and 1000 mm for amateur and professional photography. In 1958 lenses MTO-500 and MTO-1000 received the Grand Prix at the World Exhibition in Brussels.


Subsequently, Maksutov designed and produced a number of large meniscus telescopes by the domestic industry, including those with 500-mm apertures - ASI-2 for the Kamenskoye Plateau Observatory near Alma-Ata, MTM-500 for the KrAO and the Gissar Astronomical Observatory (Tajikistan), AZT-5 for the State Astronomical Institute named after P.K.Sternberg (GAISh) and the largest - with a meniscus diameter of 700 mm for the Abastumani observatory and a first-class astrograph AZT-16 produced by LOMO with a double 700-mm meniscus free from chromatism, and a mirror with a diameter of 1000 mm , installed in 1967 at the observatory on Mount El Roble in Chile.

In the 1950s, Maksutov returned to his pre-war work on using metal instead of traditional glass for mirrors. Working at the Pulkovo Observatory, he achieved significant results in the manufacture of metal mirrors, the largest of which was a high-aperture, 700 mm diameter stainless steel paraboloid lightened due to the honeycomb structure, on the basis of which the PM-700 reflector was built with a corrector in the form of a thick meniscus in a converging beam of rays. At the same time Maksutov calculated a number of new meniscus systems, but the main task assigned to the department of astronomical instrumentation, headed by him, was the design and calculation of the primary focus system of the 6-meter Large Azimuth Telescope (BTA), as well as the creation of its layout at a scale of 1:10, then there is, in essence, a fairly large reflector with a 700-mm parabolic mirror and a correction meniscus. The choice of the BTA installation site for atmospheric and climatic conditions was carried out using the TEM-140, ATEM-140 and AZT-7 expeditionary telescopes calculated by Maksutov. The largest at that time in the world telescope BTA, designed by B.K.

The creation of more and more complex and accurate optical systems entailed an increase in the complexity of optical calculations. In recent years, Maksutov has developed methods to simplify and accelerate the calculations of meniscus systems using tables and graphs connecting the parameters of systems of the most common types of "meniscus - concave mirror" and "meniscus Kassergen". He himself used a half-meter slide rule as a working tool for calculations. The posthumous work of Maksutov "On the calculation of meniscus systems", completed by his students, was published in Proceedings of the State Autonomous Okrug.

The merit of Maksutov is the education of highly qualified specialists in all areas of optical instrumentation - computers, technologists, opticians, designers. He summarized his vast experience in monographs, which did not lose their scientific value even after many years.

Titles and awards

  • Stalin Prize of the third degree (1941) - for the creation of astronomical and optical instruments
  • Stalin Prize of the first degree (1946) - for the creation of new types of anaberrational optical systems that significantly improve the quality of optical devices
  • two orders of Lenin (10.06.1945; 1953)
  • Order of the Badge of Honor (1943)
  • medal "For Valiant Labor in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945."
  • medal Grand Prix at the World Exhibition in Brussels (1958)
  • Great gold medal of the Exhibition of Economic Achievements of the USSR (1962)

Interesting Facts

  • The great-grandfather of Dmitry Dmitrievich - Dmitry Petrovich Maksutov, rear admiral, chief ruler of Russian America, participant in the defense of Petropavlovsk.
  • The telescope presented to Maksutov passed to him from his maternal great-grandfather, Dr. Zeeman, the personal doctor of P. S. Nakhimov, and belonged to the admiral himself.
  • The name of Dmitry Dmitrievich Maksutov was assigned to a small planet (2568 Maksutov), ​​discovered by Zdenka Vavrova on April 13, 1980 at the Klet observatory, Czech Republic. It is noteworthy that the planet was discovered using the Maksutov telescope.
  • The name of D. D. Maksutov is one of the lunar craters (Maksutov).


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