Delambre, Jean Baptiste Joseph

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Delambre, Jean Baptiste Joseph

(zhäN bätēst` zhôzĕf` dəläN`brə), 1749–1822, French astronomer and mathematician. He was a member of the bureau of longitudes from 1795 and professor at the Collège de France from 1807. With P. F. A. Méchain he measured (1791–99) for the French government an arc of the meridian between Barcelona and Dunkirk. He is noted also for astronomical computations, especially a table of the motions of Uranus, and for discovering four formulas in spherical trigonometry (Delambre's analogies). Delambre is known for his historical works, including Histoire de l'astronomie (6 vol., 1817–27).


See K. Alder, The Measure of All Things (2002).

Delambre, Jean Baptiste Joseph


Born Sept. 19, 1749, in Amiens; died Aug. 19, 1822, in Paris. French astronomer, geodesist, and metrologist.

In 1792, Delambre became a member and in 1803, secretary of the mathematics section of the Paris Academy of Sciences. Together with P. Mechain he took part (1792–97) in the measurement of the meridian arc from Dunkirk to Barcelona, which served as the basis for the establishment of the metric system of measures. Delambre compiled tables of the apparent motions of the sun, the large planets, and Jupiter’s satellites. He improved methods of astronomical computation and wrote a six-volume history of astronomy.


Histoire de l’astronomic ancienne, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1817.
Histoire de l’astronomic du moyen âge. Paris, 1819.
Histoire de l’astronomic moderne, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1821.
Histoire de l’astronomic au dix-huitième siècle. Paris, 1827.