Definition of Bode's law in English:

Bode's law

Pronunciation /ˈbəʊdəz//ˈbəʊdz/


  • A formula by which the distances of the first seven planets from the sun are roughly derived in terms of powers of two.

    • ‘Bode’s Law was a mathematical concept developed for predicting planetary distances in this solar system.’
    • ‘When Sir William Herschel discovered Uranus, the seventh planet, in 1781, at a distance that corresponded to Bode's law, scientific excitement about the validity of this mathematical expression reached an all-time high.’
    • ‘At the academy Gauss independently discovered Bode's law, the binomial theorem and the arithmetic - geometric mean, as well as the law of quadratic reciprocity and the prime number theorem.’
    • ‘However, the next planets did not fit well at all into the law, though a few scientists still argue today that Bode's law must be more than a mathematical coincidence and result from a physical cause.’
    • ‘This assumption was strengthened in 1781 when William Herschel identified Uranus at a distance of 19.2 astronomical units, very close to the predicted position after Saturn, which gives a result according to Bode's law of 19.6.’


Mid 19th century: named after Johann E. Bode (1747–1826), the German astronomer who drew attention to the law, which was discovered earlier by his countryman, Johann D. Titius (1729–96).


Bode's law