Johann Elert Bode (1747-1826) was born in Hamburg. His first publication was on the solar eclipse, August 5, 1766. This was followed by an elementary treatise on astronomy entitled Anleitung zur Kenntniss des gestirnten Himmels, the success of which led to his being summoned to Berlin in 1772 for the purpose of computing ephemerides on an improved plan. In 1774, Bode started the well-known Astronomisches Jahrbuch, a journal which ran to 51 yearly volumes.
Bode became director of the Berlin Observatory in 1786, where he remained until 1825. There he published the Uranographia in 1801, a celestial atlas that aimed both at scientific accuracy in showing the positions of stars and other astronomical objects, as well as the artistic interpretation of the stellar constellation figures. The Uranographia marks the climax of an epoch of artistic representation of the constellations. Later atlases showed fewer and fewer elaborate figures until they were no longer printed on such tables.
Bode also published a small star atlas, intended for astronomical amateurs (Vorstellung der Gestirne). He is credited with the discovery of Bode's Galaxy (M81). Comet Bode (C/1779 A1) is named after him; its orbit was calculated by Erik Prosperin. From 1787 to 1825 Bode was director of the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut. In 1794, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In April, 1789 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.