Coster, Dirk

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Coster, Dirk Gender: M
born on 5 October 1889 at 10:00 (= 10:00 AM )
Place Amsterdam, Netherlands, 52n22, 4e54
Timezone LST m4e53 (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Astrodienst
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_libcol.18.gif 12°20' s_mo.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 25°57 Asc.s_scocol.18.gif 21°32'

Dirk Coster


Dutch professor of Physics and Meteorology at the University of Groningen.

Coster grew up in Amsterdam in a large working-class family; he was the third child of Barend Coster, a blacksmith, and Aafje van der Mik, who married on 15 January 1885 in Amsterdam,

The Coster family valued education. Ten of their children survived to adulthood and all received enough education to go onto middle-class professions. From 1904 to 1908 Dirk went to the Teacher's College in Haarlem, then was a teacher until 1913. With the aid of private support he was able to study mathematics and physics at the University of Leiden, first having passed the exams required for students who had no gymnasium education. In Leiden he was influenced by the inspiring lectures of Paul Ehrenfest, and in 1916 he obtained his M.Sc. degree. From 1916 to 1920 Coster was assistant of Lodewijk Siertsema and Wander de Haas at the Delft University of Technology, where in 1919 he obtained an Engineer's degree in electrical engineering. In 1920 and 1921 he did research at Lund University under Manne Siegbahn, on X-ray spectroscopy of different elements. Coster's thesis was on this subject, and he obtained his Ph.D. degree in 1922 in Leiden under Paul Ehrenfest; his thesis was entitled "Röntgenspectra en de atoomtheorie van Bohr" (X-ray spectra and Bohr's atomtheory).

From August 1922 until the summer of 1923, Coster worked in Niels Bohr's Institute in Copenhagen. Within a few months he co-authored a landmark publication with Bohr, on X-ray spectroscopy and the periodic system of the elements. In addition he worked with chemist George de Hevesy on the identification of element No. 72. Element 72 had been known to be a gap in the sequence of elements since 1914, when Henry Moseley created an experimental technique for placing the elements in a definite sequence. Radiochemist Fritz Paneth suggested that element 72 might be found in ores of zirconium. (Some histories incorrectly attribute this suggestion to physicist Niels Bohr.) Bohr published a prediction of the electronic configuration of element 72 in 1923. Von Hevesy had been working with Bohr at that time.

Coster is known as the co-discoverer of Hafnium (Hf) (element 72) in 1923, along with George de Hevesy, by means of X-ray spectroscopic analysis of zirconium ore. The discovery took place in Copenhagen, Denmark. Hafnia is the Latin name for Copenhagen. It was also found in the "black iron sand" from New Zealand first examined by Dr. Scott in 1915. It was published as "On the Missing Element of Atomic Number 72" in Nature 111.

After Coster returned from Copenhagen he became Hendrik Lorentz' assistant at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, where he developed an X-ray spectrometer. In 1924 he was appointed at the University of Groningen, where he was the successor of Wander de Haas. At Groningen he started an active research program in X-ray spectroscopy.

In 1934 Coster became member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Coster was politically involved. In 1938 he travelled to Berlin to convince Lise Meitner that she had to leave Germany to escape the persecution of the Jews. Together they went by train to Groningen; at the Dutch border, Coster persuaded German immigration officers that she had permission to travel to the Netherlands. From there she went on to Sweden by way of Copenhagen.

During the German occupation of Holland, Coster also helped Jews hide from the Nazis and listened to the BBC on a daily basis using a bicycle-powered radio.

The asteroid 10445/14/5 Coster is named after Dirk Coster.


On February 26, 1919, he married Lina Maria "Miep" Wijsman (24 May 1895 7 am, Leiden - 25 Nov 1952 10h05 am, Ede) in Leiden, the daughter of a professor Hendrik Paulus Weisman (1862-1916), who held a degree in Oriental languages. Miep was one of the first women to obtain a doctorate degree in this field from the University of Leiden. Dirk and Miep had two sons and two daughters (Hendrik, Ada, Els, and Herman).

He died on 12 February 1950 at 13h45 in Groningen.

Link to Wikipeda


  • business associate/partner relationship with Lorentz, Hendrik (born 18 July 1853)
  • (has as) teacher relationship with Bohr, Niels (born 7 October 1885). Notes: From August 1922 until the summer of 1923, Coster worked in Niels Bohr's Institute in Copenhagen. Within a few months he co-authored a landmark publication with Bohr, on X-ray spectroscopy and the periodic system of the elements.
  • (has as) teacher relationship with Ehrenfest, Paul (born 18 January 1880). Notes: his very stimulating Jewish teacher, friend and promoter


  • Other Family 24 May 1895 at 07:00 AM in Leiden (Lina Maria "Miep" Wijsman born)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Marriage 26 February 1919 in Leiden (Lina Maria "Miep" Wijsman)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 3 July 1922 in Leiden (Dissertation: Röntgenspectra en de atoomtheorie van Bohr)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Meet a significant person August 1922 in Copenhague (Niels Bohr)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Misc. : Important dream 11 December 1922 (Bohr mentioned the discovery of Hafnium)
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  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released March 1923 in Groningen (New Laboratory)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Gain social status 16 June 1923 (Hafnium element discovery announced in Nature 111)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 19 December 1924 in Groningen (Straling en materie)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : Begin Travel July 1938 (Went to Berlin to warn and to save the Jewish professor Lise Meitner from the Holocaust.)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death, Cause unspecified 12 February 1950 at 1:45 PM in Groningen (.)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death of Mate 25 November 1952 at 10:05 AM in Ede (Lina Maria "Miep" Wijsman)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Svi retrieved BC from the online Amsterdam municipality.

Coster, Dirk (1889-1950) KNAW biography, the obvious source of the cited English Wikipedia.


  • Vocation : Education : Teacher
  • Vocation : Science : Physics (Dutch professor of Physics and Meteorology at the University of Groningen.)