Benjamin Apthorp Gould - Encyclopedia

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BENJAMIN APTHORP GOULD (1824-1896), American astronomer, a son of Benjamin Apthorp Gould (1787-1859), principal of the Boston Latin school, was born at Boston, Massachusetts, on the 27th of September 1824. Having graduated at Harvard College in 1844, he studied mathematics and astronomy under C. F. Gauss at Göttingen, and returned to America in 1848. From 1852 to 1867 he was in charge of the longitude department of the United States coast survey; he developed and organized the service, was one of the first to determine longitudes by telegraphic means, and employed the Atlantic cable in 1866 to establish longitude-relations between Europe and America. The Astronomical Journal was founded by Gould in 1849; and its publication, suspended in 1861, was resumed by him in 1885. From 1855 to 1859 he acted as director of the Dudley observatory at Albany, New York; and published in 1859 a discussion of the places and proper motions of circumpolar stars to be used as standards by the United States coast survey. Appointed in 1862 actuary to the United States sanitary commission, he issued in 1869 an important volume of Military and Anthropological Statistics. He fitted up in 1864 a private observatory at Cambridge, Mass.; but undertook in 1868, on behalf of the Argentine republic, to organize a national observatory at Cordoba; began to observe there with four assistants in 1870, and completed in 1874 his Uranometria Argentina (published 1879) for which he received in 1883 the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. This was followed by a zone-catalogue of 73,160 stars (1884), and a general catalogue (1885) compiled from meridian observations of 32,448 stars. Gould's measurements of L. M. Rutherfurd's photographs of the Pleiades in 1866 entitle him to rank as a pioneer in the use of the camera as an instrument of precision; and he secured at Cordoba 1400 negatives of southern starclusters, the reduction of which occupied the closing years of his life. He returned in 1885 to his home at Cambridge, where he died on the 26th of November 1896.

See Astronomical Journal, No. 389; Observatory, xx. 70 (same notice abridged); Science (Dec. 18, 1896, S. C. Chandler); Astrophysical Journal, v. 50; Monthly Notices Roy. Astr. Society, lvii. 218.

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