Charles Gifford (astronomer)

Last updated

Algernon Charles Gifford MA (Cantab.) (18 April 1861 27 February 1948) was an astronomer, explorer and teacher. [1]

A Master of Arts is a person who was admitted to a type of master's degree awarded by universities in many countries, and the degree is also named Master of Arts in colloquial speech. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree typically study linguistics, history, communication studies, diplomacy, public administration, political science, or other subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.

University of Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Astronomer scientist who studies celestial bodies

An astronomer is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific question or field outside the scope of Earth. They observe astronomical objects such as stars, planets, moons, comets, and galaxies – in either observational or theoretical astronomy. Examples of topics or fields astronomers study include planetary science, solar astronomy, the origin or evolution of stars, or the formation of galaxies. Related but distinct subjects like physical cosmology, which studies the Universe as a whole.

Gifford was born off the Cape of Good Hope aboard the Zealandia and upon arrival in New Zealand his family settled in Oamaru. In 1880 he became a sizar at St John's College, Cambridge and graduated as 14th wrangler. [2] After Cambridge he returned to New Zealand to teach mathematics and science at Waitaki Boys' High School (1883-1889), Christ's College (1889-1892) and Wellington College (1895-1927). He also helped create an observatory in 1912, which is named the Gifford Observatory in his honour.

Cape of Good Hope Headland of Cape Peninsula, South Africa

The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa.

Oamaru Town in Otago, New Zealand

Oamaru is the largest town in North Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand, it is the main town in the Waitaki District. It is 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Timaru and 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of Dunedin on the Pacific coast; State Highway 1 and the railway Main South Line connect it to both cities. With a population of 13,950, Oamaru is the 28th largest urban area in New Zealand, and the third largest in Otago behind Dunedin and Queenstown.

At Trinity College, Dublin and the University of Cambridge, a sizar is an undergraduate who receives some form of assistance such as meals, lower fees or lodging during his or her period of study, in some cases in return for doing a defined job.

In 1901 Gifford married Suzie Jones at Oamaru and had three children.

Near the end of his teaching career Gifford started to contribute regular astronomy articles to the Evening Post, one of Wellington's daily newspapers, which later turned into an influential column. His columns were later reprinted as booklets in 14 volumes under the name In Starry Skies, and eventually combined to form an introductory textbook.

<i>The Evening Post</i> (New Zealand) former newspaper based in Wellington, New Zealand

The Evening Post was an afternoon metropolitan daily newspaper based in Wellington, New Zealand. It was founded in 1865 by Dublin-born printer, newspaper manager and leader-writer Henry Blundell, who brought his large family to New Zealand in 1863.

Wellington Capital city in New Zealand

Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 418,500 residents. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island, and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. Its latitude is 41°17′S, making it the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state. Wellington features a temperate maritime climate, and is the world's windiest city by average wind speed.

Through meeting Alexander Bickerton he became a supporter of Bickerton's Partial impact theory and enthusiastically explored and polished the theory.

Partial impact theory

Partial impact theory is an astronomical theory describing the partial collision of two stars and the temporary creation of a bright third star as a consequence. The theory was explained in Alexander William Bickerton's book The Romance of the Heavens published in 1901.

He was an apt mathematician, and one of the first people to provide evidence that craters on the Moon are the result of meteorite impact. Publications of his mathematically justified theories in 1924 and 1930 contributed to the theory, which was later confirmed. Before this time, it had been popularly believed that craters on the Moon were caused by volcanic activity.

Mathematician person with an extensive knowledge of mathematics

A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in his or her work, typically to solve mathematical problems.

Impact crater Circular depression on a solid astronomical body formed by a hypervelocity impact of a smaller object

An impact crater is an approximately circular depression in the surface of a planet, moon, or other solid body in the Solar System or elsewhere, formed by the hypervelocity impact of a smaller body. In contrast to volcanic craters, which result from explosion or internal collapse, impact craters typically have raised rims and floors that are lower in elevation than the surrounding terrain. Impact craters range from small, simple, bowl-shaped depressions to large, complex, multi-ringed impact basins. Meteor Crater is a well-known example of a small impact crater on Earth.

Moon Earths natural satellite

The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits planet Earth and is Earth's only permanent natural satellite. It is the fifth-largest natural satellite in the Solar System, and the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits. The Moon is after Jupiter's satellite Io the second-densest satellite in the Solar System among those whose densities are known.

Although best known for his enthusiastic promotion of astronomy in New Zealand, including the establishment of the observatory in his name, he was also a respected explorer. Charles Gifford was one of the early photographic documentors of much of the back country within New Zealand's South Island.

South Island Southernmost of the two main islands in New Zealand

The South Island, also officially named Te Waipounamu, is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand in surface area; the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), making it the world's 12th-largest island. It has a temperate climate.

Related Research Articles

Erasmus Reinhold German astronomer and mathematician

Erasmus Reinhold was a German astronomer and mathematician, considered to be the most influential astronomical pedagogue of his generation. He was born and died in Saalfeld, Saxony.

George Biddell Airy English mathematician and astronomer

Sir George Biddell Airy was an English mathematician and astronomer, Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881. 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. His reputation has been tarnished by allegations that, through his inaction, Britain lost the opportunity of priority in the discovery of Neptune.

Alphonsus (crater) impact crater

Alphonsus is an ancient impact crater on the Moon that dates from the pre-Nectarian era. It is located on the lunar highlands on the eastern end of Mare Nubium, west of the Imbrian Highlands, and slightly overlaps the crater Ptolemaeus to the north. To the southwest is the smaller Alpetragius.

Simon Newcomb American astronomer

Simon Newcomb was a Canadian–American astronomer, applied mathematician and autodidactic polymath, who was Professor of Mathematics in the U.S. Navy and at Johns Hopkins.

James Challis British astronomer

James Challis FRS was an English clergyman, physicist and astronomer. Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy and the director of the Cambridge Observatory, he investigated a wide range of physical phenomena though made few lasting contributions outside astronomy. He is best remembered for his missed opportunity to discover the planet Neptune in 1846.

Félix Tisserand French astronomer

François Félix Tisserand was a French astronomer.

George Darwin English astronomer, mathematician

Sir George Howard Darwin, was an English barrister and astronomer, the second son and fifth child of Charles Darwin and Emma Darwin.

William Henry Pickering American astronomer

William Henry Pickering was an American astronomer. Pickering constructed and established several observatories or astronomical observation stations, notably including Percival Lowell's Flagstaff Observatory. He led solar eclipse expeditions and studied craters on the Moon, and hypothesized that changes in the appearance of the crater Eratosthenes were due to "lunar insects". He spent much of the later part of his life at his private observatory in Jamaica.

Albert Marth German astronomer

Albert Marth was a German astronomer who worked in England and Ireland.

Richard A. Proctor English astronomer

Richard Anthony Proctor was an English astronomer. He is best remembered for having produced one of the earliest maps of Mars in 1867 from 27 drawings by the English observer William Rutter Dawes. His map was later superseded by those of Giovanni Schiaparelli and Eugène Antoniadi and his nomenclature was dropped.

Herbert Hall Turner FRS was a British astronomer and seismologist.

Sir Harold Spencer Jones KBE FRS FRSE PRAS was an English astronomer. He became renowned as an authority on positional astronomy and served as Astronomer Royal for 23 years. Although born "Jones", his surname became "Spencer Jones".

Ernest William Brown English-American astronomer and mathematician

Ernest William Brown FRS was an English mathematician and astronomer, who spent the majority of his career working in the United States and became a naturalised American citizen in 1923.

Gifford Observatory astronomical observation facility

The Gifford Observatory is an astronomical observation facility located in Mount Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand. Operated by the Gifford Observatory Trust with the intent of making it available for use to Wellington school children, it is primarily used by secondary school students, and members of the Wellington Astronomical Society.

Théophile Moreux French astronomer and popular science writer

Théophile Moreux was a French astronomer and meteorologist.

Richard Dunthorne was an English astronomer and surveyor, who worked in Cambridge as astronomical and scientific assistant to Roger Long, and also concurrently for many years as surveyor to the Bedford Level Corporation.

Anna Winlock (1857-1904) was an American astronomer and human computer, one of the first members of female computer group known as "the Harvard Computers." She made the most complete catalog of stars near the north and south poles of her era. She is also remembered for her calculations and studies of asteroids. In particular, she did calculations on 433 Eros and 475 Ocllo.

John Jackson was a Scottish astronomer.

The Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) is the New Zealand national astronomical society. It is an association of professional and amateur astronomers with the prime objective to the promotion and extension of knowledge of astronomy and related branches of science.