Adams, John Couch


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Adams, John Couch,

1819–92, English astronomer, grad. St. John's College, Cambridge, 1843. By mathematical calculation based on irregularities in the motion of Uranus, he predicted the position of the then unknown planet Neptune. Because of delay in England in making a telescopic search for the planet, the credit for the discovery went to a Frenchman, Le VerrierLeverrier, Urbain Jean Joseph
, 1811–77, French astronomer who made calculations that led to the discovery of the planet Neptune. In considering the perturbations of Uranus, Leverrier made calculations indicating the presence of an unknown planet in an orbit outside that
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. In 1858, Adams became professor of mathematics at St. Andrews Univ., but he soon returned to Cambridge, to occupy the Lowndean chair of astronomy and geometry until his death. From 1861 he was also director of the university observatory, preferring this post to that of astronomer royal, which was offered to him in 1881. He made valuable studies of the moon's motions, of the Leonids in the great meteor shower of 1866, and of terrestrial magnetism. His collected papers, edited by his brother, were published (1896–1900) at Cambridge.