The Discoverers of the NGC / IC Objects
(work in progress)
Page last updated Jan 3, 2020|
Added entry for A. E. Douglass (not an NGC/IC observer, but of astronomical interest)
WORKING (Barnard, Bianchini):
Adding/updating entries (in alphabetical order from Steinicke's database)
This (incomplete) listing and discussion of the discoverers of the NGC/IC objects will at some point be supplemented by a history of the tremendous efforts required to create the catalogs. Primary reference for the list is Wolfgang Steinicke's tabulation of NGC/IC Observers
(for a fascinating and very thorough discussion of the history and contents of the NGC, and of the hundred or so astronomers who discovered its nebulae, refer to Wolfgang Steinicke's
book on the subject). In general, the link for a person's name is to Dr. Steinicke's tabulation, while the link for their year of death is to an obituary, usually in an astronomical journal. Additional links, if provided, are to other historical discussions. Little effort is being made to complete this list in a timely manner. As objects are added to the NGC/IC pages, if the discoverer of an object is mentioned, their name will be linked to an entry on this page. All discoverers of NGC/IC objects will eventually be shown here, but I am more interested in completing the catalog entries than this page. Those needing a more immediate reference should visit Dr. Steinicke's site. In particular, it should be noted that his site (and his book) contains photos of most of the discoverers and of the equipment they used, and where photos are shown on this site, they are used with his permission.
(Alphabetical index to be added here)
Organization of the entries: The discoverers are listed in order of their birth dates, or when those are identical, in order of their death dates, to group them according to their place in history. For a few observers birth and death dates are not available, so the years of their astronomical activity are used to place them in the timeline.
Links shown in entries: If hovering over the image of an individual (or a blank space indicating the lack of an image) shows that there is some kind of link, it is usually to a Wikipedia article, though other sources are used when necessary. The link attached to the person's name goes to Wolfgang Steinicke's page about them. The link attached to the date of their death goes to an obituary (usually this is a pdf file, and depending upon your browser settings it may be shown in your browser, or it may be downloaded to your downloads folder). Any other links include a description of what they are for.
Linking to these entries: If you would like to post a link to the entry for a given person, find one of the NGC/IC catalog entries for that individual and hover over their name to copy and paste the URL for the link (usually, http://cseligman.com/text/atlas/discoverers.htm#lastname ).
Ancient and Early Modern Observers
(usually Aristotle) (384 - 322 B.C.E.).
Greek philosopher. One of the most influential writers and teachers of all time; studied, taught and wrote about virtually every field of study known in ancient times. Mentioned the open clusters later listed as M39
. As head of the royal academy of Macedon tutored future kings Alexander the Great, Ptolemy and Cassander. Primarily lived in Macedonia and Athens. Born in Stageira of Chalkidiki (modern Macedonian Greece), lived and worked in various Greek states, most notably Athens and Macedon; died about age 62 on the island of Euboea (in or near Chalcis), Greece.
of Cnidus (c. 390 - c. 337 B.C.E.)
Greek asronomer and mathematician. All of his works are lost, save for fragments such as the one converted into poetry (as the Phenomena
) by Aratos of Soli
. Born and died in Knidos (Cnidus), on the western coast of Asia Minor (now Turkey). (Since no portraits of Eudoxus exist, the image shows the location of Knidos.)
Aratos of Soli
(often Aratus) (315 - 245 B.C.E.).
Greek philosopher and poet. Wrote first still-extant mention of Praesepe ("The Manger", now called the Beehive Cluster), later listed as M44
. Born in Soli (in Cilicia, in Greece), and lived there most of his life. Died about age 70 in Macedonia. Since the work that mentioned Praesepe was a conversion into poetry of a now-lost work written about a century earlier by Eudoxus of Cnidus, he has an entry just above this one.
(190 - 125 B.C.E.), Greek astronomer. Among many objects mentioned in his catalog are Praesepe (previously noted by Aratos
, and the pair of clusters original known as χ Persei, but now referred to as h
and χ Persei
. Born in Nikaia, Greece; died about age 70 in Rhodes (then part of the Roman Republic).
Claudius Ptolemaeus, or Ptolemy
(87 - 165 C.E.), Greek astronomer. (No known images exist from his lifetime; the one shown is the product of a Baroque artist's imagination.) Born in Egypt (then part of the Roman Empire), died in Alexandria (about age 69 or 70), Egypt.
(often As-Sufi) (Dec 7, 903 - May 25, 986).
Born in Raj, Persia (now Rey, Iran). Lived and worked at the court of Emir Adud ad-Daula in Isfahan, Persia. One of the most famous Muslim astronomers. Translated and considerably updated and improved Ptolemy
, including tables and diagrams of the positions of stars and constellations, the first account of what are now known as the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Andromeda Galaxy and several other objects that appear to correspond to bright nebulae or clusters. Also noted the inclination of the Ecliptic to the Celestial Equator and more accurately calculated the length of the seasonal ("tropical") year. Died at age 82 in Shiraz, Persia. (No certain images exist from his lifetime; the one shown is presumably a good representation of his observing technique, but not necessarily an actual picture of al-Sufi.)
(Mar 18, 1454 - Feb 22, 1512), Italian explorer, navigator and cartographer. He was the first to describe the so-called Magellanic Clouds, about twenty years prior to their "discovery" by Magellan. Born in Florence, Italy. Died at age 57 in Seville, Spain.
(about 1480 - Apr 27, 1521), Portuguese explorer. Popularly thought to be the discoverer of the eponymous Magellanic clouds, though they were actually discovered by Amerigo Vespucci
. Magellan was born to a noble Portuguese family in Sabroso, Portugal. He died (about age 40 or 41) in the Kingdom of Mactan (now Lapu-Lapu City in the Philippines).
(Jan 10, 1573 - Jan 5, 1625), German astronomer.
Giovanni Battista Hodierna
(Apr 13, 1597 - Apr 6, 1660), Italian astronomer. A SEDS page deals with Hodierna's life and accomplishments
. Hodierna was the first to observe a number of now famous nebulae, but the 1654 publication of his work was little noticed outside Sicily, and despite a brief mention of his work by Lalande in an 1803 publication, remained essentially unknown until its rediscovery in the 1980's. As a result Messier, the Herschels, and Dreyer were unaware of Hodierna's discoveries, and he is not mentioned in their publications.
Johann Abraham Ihle
(Jun 14, 1627 - 1699?), German amateur astronomer, who was the first to discover a globular cluster (now known as M22
), although the actual nature of the object was not known until much later. Ihle was a friend of Hevelius and Gottfried Kirch
, with whom he maintained a frequent correspondence about their observations.
(Oct 29, 1656 - Jan 14, 1742), British astronomer. (Note: The correct pronunciation of Halley's last name is HALL-ee, as in an entry hall (confirmed by Pepys' diaries).)
(Nov 26, 1657 - Apr 5, 1735), British astronomer and philosopher.
(Oct 31, 1695?1693? or Nov 10, 1695 - Nov 6, 1771
), British astronomer. Per Wikipedia, born in Old Sarum, Wiltshire, England; per the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, born in West Harnham near Salisbury, England (and according to that reference, on either Oct 31 or Nov 10 of 1695). Died at age 75 or 76 (or 78?) (depending on his actual birth date) in London, England as the result of a fall from the observing platform of his telescope while observing the Sun. Bevis attempted to publish a British astronomical catalog and atlas, but the bankruptcy of the publisher meant that only fragments of the atlas were ever published. However, the atlas contained the positions of a number of NGC/IC objects, including the Crab Nebula, which was discovered by Bevis, who was an assiduous observer of the heavens. He was one of only two people in England who observed the return of Halley's comet in 1758, and is the only person to have ever observed the occultation of one planet by another (namely, an occultataion of Mercury by Venus in 1737).
(Apr 17, 1709 - Nov 14, 1788), French-Italian astronomer. Giovanni Domenico Maraldi was born in Perinaldo, Italy, but spent his entire career in France (1727 - 1772) before retiring to the town of his birth. Maraldi was the nephew of French-Italian astronomer Jacques Philippe Maraldi (also born in Perinaldo), who was the nephew of Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini
(also born in Perinaldo, which is proud of its illustrious sons
Jean Philippe Loys de Chéseaux
(May 4, 1718 - Nov 30, 1751), Swiss astronomer.
de Chéseaux's discoveries were presented to the French Academy of Science in 1746, only to be promptly forgotten. Le Gentil made a private note of them in 1759, but it wasn't until 1892 that Guillaume Bigourdan made them public. Even then Dreyer appears to have been unaware of their existence, as he routinely assigned their discovery to much later observers.
Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix
(Nov 23, 1718 - Jan 18, 1802), French astronomer.
Long thought to be the discoverer of the Ring Nebula (M57), but now known to have seen the object at least 10 days later than Charles Messier. Still, his reference to the nebula's appearance as like a fading planet is what led to such nebulae being called planetary nebulae.
Joseph Jérôme Lefrançois de Lalande
(Jul 11, 1732 - Apr 4, 1807), French astronomer.
(Note: The numerical listing of Lalande objects is based on an 1847 publication available here
; Lalande's original 1801 publication can be downloaded here
The Herschels and Their Contemporaries
Pierre Francois Andre Méchain
(1744 - 1804), French astronomer. Méchain was a (younger) colleague and close friend of Messier, and was the actual discoverer of many of the later additions to Messier's catalog. Like Messier, he was an avid comet hunter, and found nearly a dozen comets on his own, or as a co-discoverer, with others.
(Apr 28, 1774 - Aug 30, 1844
), British astronomer. Born in Newbury, Berkshire, England. Died at age 70 in London, England.
(Oct 31, 1793 - Sep 22, 1848), Scottish astronomer. Dunlop was not trained as an astronomer, but took an early interest in the field, and by a lucky chance was hired as an assistant by Sir Thomas Brisbane. When Brisbane was appointed governor of New South Wales, Dunlop accompanied his employer to Australia, and upon completion of Brisbane's Paramatta (now Parramatta) observatory, became second assistant; and when the first assistant abandoned the position, succeeded him. Dunlop was an assiduous observer of stars and double stars, and (mostly on his own initiative) nebulae; and being the first astronomer to regularly observe the southern hemisphere sky, he discovered many objects. Unfortunately, his lack of training made his calculations of the objects' positions relatively inaccurate, and many of his discoveries are either "lost", or when more or less confidently identifiable, are more often credited to John Herschel, who tried to observe all of Dunlop's objects during his southern hemisphere expeditions. As a result, for a long time Dunlop's work was in considerable disrepute; but in recent years efforts to identify the objects he observed have shown that he deserves more credit than he received during his lifetime.
Edward Joshua Cooper
(May 1, 1798 - Apr 23, 1863), Irish astronomer. A recent discussion of Cooper's life and the only extant photograph of him can be viewed here
. (Note: Any use of the original image (and any commerical use of any portion of the image) may require the permission of the copyright holder.)
Francis Preserved Abbott
(Aug 12, 1799 - Feb 18, 1880
Francis Abbott was born in Derby, England. He was a successful watchmaker and clockmaker in Derby and later in Manchaster. In 1844 he was found guilty of fraudulent receipt of two watches, and in 1845 was transported to the penal colony in Hobart, Tasmania. After serving four years of a seven year sentence he was freed and started a business as watchmaker in Hobart (soon after his wife and children were given free passage to join him). Practically from his arrival in Tasmania he began recording meteorological data, and was given access to equipment at Rossbank Observatory until its closure in 1854. Afterward he continued his astronomical and meteorological observations in his private observatory in Hobart. In 1860 his efforts led to his election as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, to which he submitted many papers on numerous astronomical topics. His most famous accomplishment was the discovery (on Jan 17, 1865) of what came to be called the Great Southern Comet, which was a naked-eye comet until the end of February 1865. He is generally considered to have been a competent observer of the sky, but a paper announcing his discovery of changes in the brightness and appearance of η Carinae had unfortunate results. At first, the paper caused great excitement in Europe; but his suggestion that those changes might represent the formation of a new planetary system led to a rejection of his work, and he ceased publishing in European journals in 1873. Between 1878 and 1880 he published several introductory books about astronomy, and throughout his later years was considered one of Australia's leading astronomers. He died in Hobart at age 83.
(1800 - 1867
), 3rd Earl of Rosse, British astronomer. References to the fact that most of the NGC/IC objects attributed to Lord Rosse were actually found by his assistants may give the erroneous impression that the 3rd Earl was not an important observer. However, aside from having discovered the best part of a hundred nebulae himself, he left a legacy unsurpassed for the best part of a century -- a 6-foot aperture reflecting telescope (the "Leviathan" of Birr Castle), the construction of which would have been an impossible task for the best professional telescope makers of the day. Through tremendous effort, intelligence and inspiration, Parsons succeeded in creating a mirror and telescope many times larger than any in existence, so well constructed that it was as easy to use as it was large, making his and his assistants' observations uniquely successful. Even more importantly, instead of guarding the secret of how he managed the feat, he published a detailed discussion of the methods involved in the Leviathan's construction, providing an invaluable aid to astronomers everywhere. As stated in his obituary (linked above), "It may justly be urged that the maker (of an instrument) is above (its user). Eyes are common to us all, all could make discoveries if they had the means. It was the means that the Earl of Rosse supplied."
(Apr 19, 1815 - Oct 7, 1887
), British astronomer.
Baxendell discovered NGC 7088, a large faint nebula near globular cluster M2
; but though several other visual astronomers also observed the nebula, it earned the nickname "Baxendell's Unphotographable Nebula" because it has never been photographed. Modern opinion is that the object was not real, but a visual reaction to reflected light from M2. Baxendell was born at Smedley, near Manchester, England. He died at age 72 in Birkdale, in Mersey, England.
Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel
(Dec 4, 1821 - Mar 16, 1889
), German astronomer. Discovered numerous comets early in his career (he is the Tempel in the name of several famous comets, such as Temple-Tuttle), and several minor planets; but after being placed in charge of the unfinished and dilapidated Arcetri observatory, turned his attention to and made numerous accurate observations and exceptional drawings of nebulae, despite its Amici telescope, though optically of excellent quality, having no clock drive, setting circles or micrometer to aid in pointing it at celestial objects or measuring their positions. (A second obituary can be found here
(Reverend) William Hautenville Rambaut
(Apr 13, 1822 - Aug 26, 1893), Irish astronomer. The first assistant (Jan to Jun, 1848) of Lawrence Parsons
, the 3rd Earl of Rosse, for a long time it was thought that he only produced chalk drawings of some of the objects discovered at Birr Observatory (none of which were published during his lifetime), but per Steinicke, he did discover one NGC object
. He also worked at Armagh Observatory (whose director, Thomas Romney Robinson, was the husband of his aunt, Eliza Isabelle Rambaut) in various capacities until 1868 (both Robinson and Rambaut were intimately involved with the 3rd Lord Rosse's efforts to create his 72-inch "Leviathan", so it was only natural that Rosse hired Rambaut as an assistant after the telescope was finally completed). Having been ordained in 1864, after leaving Armagh Observatory Rambaut concentrated his efforts on ecclesiastical studies, particularly a several volume translation of The Writings of Irenaeus
, in collaboration with the Reverend Alexander Roberts. One of Rambaut's nephews, Arthur Alcock Rambaut, was also an astronomer, and became the Royal Astronomer of Ireland after the retirement of his predecessor. Per a genealogy of the Rambaut family, they were Huguenots who fled from France to other countries starting in the mid 1750's (his grandfather emigrated to Ireland from Bordeaux). His grandmother, whose maiden name was Hautenville (whence his middle name), also came from longstanding Huguenot stock. Rambaut was probably born in Blackrock, a suburb of Dublin. He married Alice Catherine Osborn in Booterstown, a small town just south of Dublin and now also a suburb of that city. The pair had four children, a son and three daughters, and at least four grandchildren. His wife survived him by 17 years, and they are buried next to each other in the Rambaut family vault at St. Michan's, also in Dublin.
(Jun 21, 1823 - Sep 23, 1873), French astronomer. (Note: An Internet search for images of Chacornac leads to non-English-language Wikipedia pages for him; but the image shown on those pages is not of Chacornac, but Camille Flammarion.)
Per Magnus Herman Schultz
(1823 - 1890), Swedish astronomer.
(Note: The Internet Archive has a digital copy of Schultz's entire catalog of 500 nebulae here
George Phillips Bond
(May 20, 1825 - Feb 16, 1865), American astronomer. A previously posted image proved to be of William Bond, George Bond's father. The image now shown here is supposedly of George Bond, and given its appearance is almost certainly contemporaneous with the younger Bond; but online images are often mislabeled (e.g., another "image of George Bond" is actually of William Lassell), so I don't know whether the attribution is correct.
(Feb 6, 1826 - Jun 11, 1875), American astronomer, and onetime director of the Harvard Observatory. Father of Anna Winlock
, the first female computer
hired by Harvard, after her father's untimely death left his family destitute.
(Dec 22, 1828 - May 1, 1891
), German astronomer.
An assiduous observer of all aspects of the heavens, well-regarded in his day, but now remembered by only a few (the likely fate of even the best of us).
(1828 - 1897
), German astronomer (but worked in England and Ireland). Discovered 600 NGC objects.
(Jan 18, 1828 - Mar 12, 1909
), French astronomer.(Image courtesy of Augustin Laforêt, a great-great-nephew of Professor Voigt)
Although Voigt discovered ten nebulae in 1865, he only recorded them in his journal, which was not published until 1987; so although now given credit for his observations, none of them were mentioned in the original NGC or its supplements.
(Oct 15, 1829 - Nov 22, 1907), American astronomer.
Bindon Blood Stoney
(1829 - 1909
), Irish engineer. Worked at Birr Castle, assisting William Parsons
with the mechanical construction of his telescopes, from 1850 - 1852, and per Dreyer, the actual discoverer of some objects announced by his employer. Brother of George Stoney
Phillip Sidney Coolidge
(Aug 22, 1830 - Sep 19, 1863
), American astronomical observer. A great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson through his daughter Martha, and her daughter Ellen Wayles Randolph
, Coolidge was the only white descendant of Jefferson to fight for the Union in the Civil War. A major in the Union Army, he was one of four thousand men killed at Chickamauga, for which service he was awarded the brevet (honorary, and usually posthumous) rank of lieutenant-colonel. All of Coolidge's NGC objects proved to be stars, without any nebulosity. This was presumably due to the difficulty of distinguishing faint stars from equally faint, nearly stellar nebulosities, and the efforts of observers of the day (and today, for that matter) to exceed the limits of their instruments. A discussion of Coolidge's friendship with William and George Bond
, his observations of Saturn, and his loss at Chickamauga can be found here
(Fyodor Aleksandrovich Bredikhin) (Dec 8, 1831 - May 14, 1904
), Russian astronomer. A German obituary can be found here
Gaspare Stanislao Ferrari (Oct 23, 1834 - Jun 20, 1903), Italian astronomer.
R. J. Mitchell
(active 1850's), Irish astronomer. An assistant to William Parsons
, 3rd Earl of Rosse, from 1852 - 1855. According to Parsons, "An eminently cautious and painstaking observer", and per Dreyer, the actual discoverer of many objects announced by his employer.
Truman Henry Safford
(1836 - 1901), American astronomer and mathematical prodigy.
Safford's observations of nebulae were made at the Dearborn Observatory between 1866 and 1868, but were not published until 1887, as an appendix to the Dearborn Observatory Report for 1885 and 1886, so Dreyer was unaware of them until he had finished preparation of the NGC. Because of this only a selection of Safford's observations were listed in an Appendix to the NGC, and no mention was made of any of his NGC discoveries, either in the main body of the work or in the Appendix. When the first Index Catalog was published a decade later, a number of Safford's discoveries were noted, but since many of the objects had been independently discovered by other observers who were unaware of Safford's work, most of the IC objects list Safford as a co-discoverer, and in some cases his observations are not noted at all. As of the date of this post (Mar 6, 2015) I have started to try to rectify that oversight, but it will undoubtedly take some time for me to go through the list of his observations and give credit where credit is due; and until this sentence is removed, the reader should assume that I am still working on that part of this project.(Notes from Safford's paper: #1, 4 and 17 were not shown in the Dearborn Observatory report because they proved identical to nebulae discovered prior to Safford's observations; and #86, 88, 95, 100 and 101 were actually found by Aaron Skinner, an assistant of Safford's at the time.)
George Mary Searle
(June 27, 1839 - July 17, 1918), American astronomer and clergyman. Searle was born in London, but his family moved to America sometime thereafter, and he graduated from Harvard in 1857. He became an assistant at the Dudley Observatory, where he discovered the asteroid (55) Pandora (Sep 11, 1858). He later entered the U.S. coast survey, and was appointed an assistant professor at the U. S. Naval Academy in 1862. He returned to Harvard (as an assistant asronomer) in June 1866, remaining there until March 1868. During his time there he discovered six nebulae: NGC 548, 565, 570, 4058, 4247 and 5487. After leaving Harvard Searle joined the Paulist Order, and continued to write many articles in scientific journals, but his most popular publication (reprinted numerous times) was an attempt to reconcile scientific and Catholic religious principles, for which he was criticized by scientists (who felt that an open mind was required to find and accept new truths) and by those whom Searle called Bible Christians, who treated the Scriptures as the only true source of knowledge, and felt that any effort to reconcile faith and science was the work of the devil. In 1916 Searle retired to the Apostolic Mission House in Washington, where he died two years later, at the age of 79. His obituary was published in Nature (volume 101, page 430, 1918), but is not available online, which is why this entry (primarily based on Wolfgang Steinicke's website) is relatively thorough.
(active 1860's), Irish artist. An assistant to William Parsons
, 3rd Earl of Rosse, from 1860 - 1864. Apparently primarily assigned to produce drawings of nebulae observed with the Earl's 72" telescope (the Leviathan). According to Lord Rosse, he was an accomplished artist, and is best known for a famous drawing he did of the Orion Nebula. (Given that, you would think it easy to find a copy of the drawing; but as of this writing I have been unable to find one.)
Emil Hugo Becker
(Aug 11, 1843 - Aug 6, 1912
), German astronomer.
Director of the Strassburg Observatory.
Edward P. Austin
(1843 - 1906), American astronomer.
(Per Steinicke) "There is very little known about Austin. He was an assistant observer at Harvard College Observatory from 1869-71 (under the directorship of Joseph Winlock
). Together with Langley
and Winlock he observed nebulae with the 15" f/18 Merz refractor [shown at left] installed in June 1847. The results are published in Ann. Harv. Obs. 13, 62 (1882). Austin discovered 3 objects: NGC 3097
(HN 177), NGC 3315
(HN 207), and NGC 3317
(HN 210); all observed on March 24, 1870. While NGC 3097 is lost and NGC 3317 is a triple star, NGC 3315 is the only "real" object, a galaxy in Hydra. After his short career at Harvard he worked in a geographical survey in Arizona and Nevada. "HN" stands for "Harvard Nebula", given in Pickering
, E. C., Detection of Nebulae by Photography, Ann. Harv. Obs. 18, 113-117 (1890)."
A Somerville, Massachusetts report on the historical significance of a shed/garage at 204 Morrison Street (carried out for the evaluation of a proposal for a 'historical' bed and breakfast) states that the property was purchased by Austin's wife (Maria L. Austin) in his name in January 1872 (at which time Austin was working on the Army's geographical survey), but that they lived there for only a short time as by 1875 he was serving as a Professor of Astronomy at Harvard and living in Cambridge. So although Austin served only briefly as an astronomical assistant at Harvard prior to his geographical work, he did return to Harvard afterward.
Carl Frederick Pechüle
(Jun 8, 1843 - May 28, 1914
), Danish astronomer.
(The following is based on the (German) Astronomische Nachrichten
obituary of 1914, and the discussion in Steinicke's book.) Frederick Pechüle was born in Copenhagen. His father, Christian, was a needlemaker. His early studies were at home, and at the Collegium Propaganda in Rome. After graduating (in 1865), he became a student at the Copenhagen Observatory under the supervision of Heinrich d'Arrest
. While there he began the observations of asteroids and comets which remained the center of his interest for the rest of his life. He discovered three comets (in 1877, 1880 and 1886), and made countless observations of asteroids over the course of a nearly fifty year long career. From 1870 to '72 he was an assistant to George Rümker
at the Hamburg Observatory; his work there concentrated on observations of nebulae and star clusters. Pechüle received his M.A. from Copenhagen University in 1873. The following year he took part in an expedition to Mauritius to observe the 1874 transit of Venus; he was also a member of the Danish expedition which observed the 1882 transit of Venus from St. Croix, in the West Indies. He was permanently employed at the Copenhagen Observatory from 1875 on, succeeding Hans Schjellerup
as assistant in 1885. Among other duties he served as timekeeper for the Observatory, and was responsible for the calculations for the Danish astronomical almanac from that time until his death, after a long illness, just shy of his 71st birthday.
Aaron Nichols Skinner
(Aug 10, 1845 - Aug 14, 1918), American astronomer. Skinner was born in Boston, MA, the son of Benjamin Hill Skinner (Jr.) and Mercy (Burgess) Skinner. He married Sarah Elizabeth Gibbs of Framingham, MA on Feb 9, 1874. They had two children, Melville Gibbs and Helen Augusta Skinner. He was educated at Boston Latin School, at Beloit (Wisconsin) College and the University of Chicago, where between 1866 and 1868 he was an assistant of Truman Safford
at the Dearborn Observatory, and in 1867 discovered 3 IC objects (published in 1887, too late for Dreyer to enter in the NGC). In 1870 he became assistant astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory, and in 1898 was appointed professor of mathematics at the observatory with the rank of Lieutenant. He retired in 1907 with the rank of Commander. He died in Framingham, MA.(Photo obtained from the USNO website)
(Apr 15, 1847 - May 12, 1912), Latvian-Ukrainian astronomer. Partially quoting from Steinicke, Block was born at Baldonu, Latvia on April 15, 1847. He studied astronomy at Dorpat and became an assistant there in 1868 (see W. Struve
). He changed to Pulkovo Observatory in 1871 (see O. Struve
). After two years he went to the Odessa Observatory (Ukraine), where he worked as an astronomer from 1873. He used a 4" comet seeker for visual observations of comets and nebulae. With this instrument he found NGC 1398
on October 18, 1879, published in AN #2287 (1879). But the object was seen by Winnecke
on Dec. 17, 1868 at Karlsruhe (see AN #2293), and (per a later note by Steinicke) even earlier by Tempel
. NGC 1398 is a galaxy in Fornax (in Block's time the area was in Eridanus). On the same night he observed NGC 1398 Block found the planetary NGC 1360
, first found by Lewis Swift
in 1857 then by Winnecke in 1868. Block died on May 12, 1912, in Saint Petersburg. He and his wife (Alexandrine Döllen) had four children.
Adolphus Albert Le Sueur
(Dec 8, 1849 - Apr 25, 1906
), British-Australian astronomer. Involved with the construction of and early observations with the 48-inch Great Melbourne Telescope, which for twenty-some years was the largest telescope in the world, Lord Rosse's 72-inch Leviathan having fallen into disrepair. (For anything else refer to the obituary linked from Le Sueur's date of death.)
E. Farie MacGeorge
(active early 1870's), Australian observer. One of the principal observers for the Great Melbourne Telescope; no NGC/IC objects discovered due to the poor quality of the GMT (see Albert Le Sueur
), and listed here only because of his connection to that observatory.
Later Observers (born in or after 1850)
(Apr 4, 1850 - May 10, 1901
), German astronomer. Primarily worked at the Kiel Observatory. Born in Kopperpahl, Germany, died in Ruanda while working for the German Boundary Commission in East Africa.
(Aug 3, 1854 - Sep 23, 1922), Czech astronomer.
Solon Irving Bailey
(Dec 29, 1854 - Jun 5, 1931
), American astronomer. Born in Lisbon, New Hampshire, USA. Died at age 76 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Eugen von Gothard
(May 31, 1857 - May 29, 1909
), Hungarian astronomer and astrophysicist. Click date of death for brief 1910 obituary; click photo for detailed biography.
Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming
(May 15, 1857 - May 21, 1911
), Scottish-American astronomer. Abandoned by her husband, she was reduced to working as a maid. Her employer, a professor of astronomy at Harvard, was so dissatisfied with the work of his assistants that he claimed "My maid could do a better job." And she did, becoming one of the most famous female astronomers of the 19th century, and an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society.
(1857 - 1928), Austrian astronomer. (Photo from Scientific Web, no original attribution provided; however, based on the appearance of its subject, it must have been taken in the 1800's, and is therefore almost certainly in the public domain.)
Friedrich Simon Archenhold
(Oct 2, 1861 - Oct 14, 1939), German astronomer. Born in Lichtenau, Germany, and died at age 78 in Berlin. He was instrumental in the renovation of the Treptow Observatory and the construction of its large telescope, and served as its director from 1896 to 1931, when he retired (at age 70). When the Nazis came into power they confiscated his property, since he was Jewish. His sons escaped to England, but his wife and daughter died at the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
(1862 - 1917), American astronomer. Credited with the discovery of nearly a hundred NGC / IC objects.
Paul Ewald Felix Hugo Clemens
(Oct 20, 1862 - Dec 22, 1936
), German astronomer.
Clemens discovered one NGC/IC object, IC 4996
, marking it as a cluster of 12 stars; but though Clemens was the first to photograph the cluster, Dreyer
incorrectly credited Frank Bellamy
as the discoverer (and actually, William Herschel
was the first to observe the cluster, though he did not publish the observation). Clemens was born in Sorau (Nieder-Lausitz), Germany (now part of Poland). He died at age 75, probably also in Germany, though available references are inadequate to be certain. Note: The brief biography linked above is in German.
N. M. Parrish
(? - ?), American astronomer. An assistant and observer at the Leander McCormick Observatory of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from 1887 - 1890, when Ormond Stone
was director of the observatory. He discovered some IC nebulae and reobserved numerous NGC objects as part of the Observatory's work on "Southern Galaxies". Parrish computed the elements of the orbit of asteroid 268 Adorea and an ephemeris for its next expected opposition (the first one after its initial discovery), calculated an ephemeris for Comet Olbers, and made observations of the newly discovered satellite of Neptune (Triton), thereby assisting Stone in his observations of that moon.
Maximilian (Max) Franz Josef Cornelius Wolf
(Jun 21, 1863 - Oct 3, 1932
), German astronomer. Wolf was one of the first to fully realize the utility of astrophotography, and discovered 248 asteroids, and nearly 6 thousand nebulae, of which more than a thousand are IC objects. His name is most famously connected, however, with his measurements of the proper motions of more than 1500 faint stars, many of which, such as Wolf 359, are exceptionally close to the Sun (Wolf 359 being closer than any other known stars, save for Rigel Kentaurus and Barnard's Star).
Frank Arthur Bellamy
(Oct 17, 1863 - Feb 15, 1936
), British astronomer.
Bellamy discovered only one NGC/IC object (IC 4996
), measuring the positions of over 100 stars in the open cluster; but after publishing his observations he discovered that it had already been observed (though not in as much detail) by Hugo Clemens
, so though credited with the discovery by Dreyer
, Bellamy was not the original discoverer (in fact, that was William Herschel
, though he did not publish the observation). Bellamy was born in Oxford, England and died there at age 72.
(Nov 16, 1864 - Aug 3, 1917
), French astronomer. Discovered over 1400 IC objects, more than any other observer, using the 30" refractor at the Nice Observatory.
Robert Grant Aitken
(Dec 31, 1864 - Oct 29, 1951
Born in Jackson, California, USA; worked primarily at Lick Observatory, California, USA. Died at age 86 in Berkeley, California, USA.
Walter Frederick Gale
(Nov 27, 1865 - Jun 1, 1945
), Australian astronomer. Due to his assiduous observations of Mars, one of its craters is named after him, namely the one currently being explored by the Curiosity rover.
(Jul 6, 1866 - 1940), British - South African astronomer.
Andrew Ellicott Douglass
(Jul 5, 1867 - Mar 20, 1962
), American astronomer and archaeologist. Aside from his astronomical work, he founded dendrochronology and discovered a correlation between tree rings and the sunspot cycle.
Vsevolod Viktorovich Stratonov
(Apr 4, 1869 - Jul 6, 1938), Russian astronomer. After the Russian Revolution Stratonov became a political refugee. He was a professor of astronomy at Prague University when he committed suicide. His one IC discovery (IC 1990) was made at the Tashkent Observatory in Uzbekistan.
(1871 - 1945), American astronomer. Son of Lewis Swift
and his second wife Caroline, Swift worked with his father on an occasional basis while between the ages of 13 and 20, discovering 46 nebulae and one comet.
Royal Harwood Frost
(Feb 25, 1879 - May 11, 1950), American astronomer. Frost worked as an astronomical assistant at Harvard College Observatory under Edward Pickering
, but did his most productive astronomical work at the Arequipa observatory, in Peru. During the dozen years he did astronomical observations he discovered 454 IC objects, and an asteroid (505 Cava).
(1900 - June 26, 1932
, American astronomer. Ames was not involved in the original discovery of NGC/IC objects, but is mentioned in a number of entries on this site as a result of her confirmation or refutation of discoveries by earlier Harvard observers. In her unfortunately short life she became a well-respected astronomer and research assistant, and was Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin's closest friend at Harvard. She was Harlow Shapley's assistant from 1924 to her death, the chief contributor of the data on which his theories were based (she discovered over 3000 galaxies in a hundred square degree region in Coma Berenices and Virgo), and the Shapley-Ames Catalog is named after her. (The source of the thumbnail image can be viewed here. Any commercial use of the original image may require the permission of the copyright holder.)
(active late 1930's), American astronomer. Carlson worked at Mount Wilson, and is best known for her compilation of Some Corrections to Dreyer's Catalogues of Nebulae and Clusters
, one of the early "modern" efforts to update the NGC/IC. Like many such efforts, some of the "corrections" merely led to greater confusion, but the paper is one of many steps toward our current understanding of what the original observers actually saw. (Carlson left Mount Wilson to marry Herb Grosch, whose unfinished memoir, Computer, is the source of the photo shown here; and although its placement on the Columbia University site indicates a desire to freely memorialize his life and work, any commercial use of the image almost certainly requires the permission of the copyright holder.)