George Biddell Airy

Edward Walter Maunder and the Sunspots

Edward Walter Maunder and the Sunspots

On April 12, 1851, British astronomer Edward Walter Maunder was born. Maunder was the first to take the British Civil Service Commission examination for the post of photographic and spectroscopic assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. He is best remembered for his study of sunspots and the solar magnetic cycle that led to his identification of the period from 1645 to 1715 that is now known as the Maunder Minimum. “If we…
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Alexander Ross Clarke and the true Shape of the Earth

Alexander Ross Clarke and the true Shape of the Earth

On December 16, 1828, British geodesist Alexander Ross Clarke was born. He is best known for his calculation of the Principal Triangulation of Britain (1858), the calculation of the Figure of the Earth (1858, 1860, 1866, 1880) and one of the most important text books of Geodesy (1880). The figures from his second determination became a standard reference for U.S. geodesy for most of the twentieth century until satellites could improve accuracy.…
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The Astronomical Achievements of Sir George Biddell Airy

The Astronomical Achievements of Sir George Biddell Airy

On July 27, 1801, English mathematician, astronomer, and Astronomer Royal George Biddell Airy was born. His many achievements include work on planetary orbits, measuring the mean density of the Earth, a method of solution of two-dimensional problems in solid mechanics and, in his role as Astronomer Royal, establishing Greenwich as the location of the prime meridian. “It is not simply that a clear understanding is acquired of the movements of the great bodies which we regard as the system of the…
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