Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen
Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (Беллинсгаузен, Фаддей Фаддеевич, Faddey Faddeyevich Bellinsgauzen in Russian) (September 20, 1778 - January 13, 1852) served as a naval officer of the Russian Empire and commanded the second expedition to circumnavigate Antarctica.
Born in Ísel in Estonia - then part of the Russian Empire - Bellingshausen enlisted as a cadet in the Imperial Russian Navy at the age of 10. After graduating from the naval academy at Kronstadt at age 18, he rapidly rose to the rank of captain. As a great admirer of Cook's voyages, he served in the first Russian circumnavigation of the earth on the vessel Nadezhda ("Hope") under Kruzenstern in 1803, completing the mission in 1806. His career continued with the command of various ships in the Baltic and Black Seas.
When Czar Alexander I authorised an expedition to the south polar region in 1819, the authorities again selected Bellingshausen to lead. Leaving Portsmouth on September 5, 1819 with two ships, the 600-ton corvette Vostok and the 530-ton support vessel Mirnyi (captain - Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev), the expedition crossed the Antarctic Circle (the first to do so since Cook) on January 26, 1820. On January 28 1820 (New Style) the expedition discovered the Antarctic mainland approaching the Antarctic coast at a point with coordinates and seeing ice-fields there. Bellingshausen's diary, his report to the Russian Naval Minister on 21 July 1821 and other documents, available in the Russian State Museum of the Arctic and Antarctic in Saint Petersburg, Russia, all support this fact. Besides that, this point lies within 20 miles of the Antarctic mainland. Summarizing all this evidence, Russians claim Bellinsgshausen as the discoverer of the sought-after Terra Australis -- rather than the Royal Navy's Edward Bransfield on 30 January 1820 or the American Nathaniel Palmer on 17 November 1820. During the voyage Bellingshausen also discovered and named the South Shetland Islands, Peter I Island and a peninsula of the Antarctic mainland which he named the Alexander Coast but which has more recently borne the designation of Alexander Island.
The expedition continued to make discoveries in the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Returning to Kronstadt on 4 August 1821 to no great acclaim, Bellingshausen continued to serve his tsar. He fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828 - 1829 and attained the rank of Admiral. He became the military Governor of Kronstadt (from 1839) and died there in 1852.
- Двукратные изыскания в Южном Ледовитом океане и плавание вокруг света... Bellingshausen's book in Russian with details on the Antarctic expedition lead by him
- Biography (in Russian)
- A map of his Antarctic expedition (in Russian), attention - all dates there are Julian
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