Share this entry

Bode's law Line breaks: Bode's law
Pronunciation: /ˈbəʊdz/

Definition of Bode's law in English:


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

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day doofus
Pronunciation: ˈduːfʌs
a stupid person