Airy, Sir George Biddell

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Airy, Sir George Biddell,

1801–92, English astronomer. The son of a poor farmer, he distinguished himself as Senior Wrangler at Cambridge, where he was elected fellow of Trinity College (1824) and appointed professor (1826). As Astronomer Royal and director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory from 1835 to 1881, he organized the efficient and accurate observation of stellar positions. Airy wrote many governmental reports on astronomical and other subjects, published works on celestial mechanics, and made discoveries in theoretical and practical optics, including the cylindrical lens for correcting astigmatism, an eye defect he himself possessed.

Bibliography

See his autobiography (1896).

References in periodicals archive ?
The Weather Experiment brings in the work of artist John Constable, scholar Thomas Forster, Luke Howard (who classified cloud types), James Glaisher, and astronomer George Airy.
Many years later (1862), George Airy, the Astronomer Royal, asked Dawes to submit these observations to the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), as not a single notice of this rare event had been received by the society.
It took several attempts to gain the attention of George Airy (then astronomer royal) and, after several delays, James Challis (director of the Cambridge Observatory) began to search for planets.
In June 1846 Sir George Airy, the Astronomer Royal, persuaded James Challis to look for the missing planet after seeing that Le Verrier's results were very similar to those of Adams.
Sir George Airy was born at Clayport in Alnwick on July 27, 1801, and baptised at St Michael's Church at Bailiffgate.
He passed his findings on to Sir George Airy, a top scientific civil servant of his day, but his efforts were largely ignored.
Their title stems from Newcomb's long friendship with George Airy, Astronomer Royal of England from 1835 to 1881, a powerful role model from whom he learned how to manage people to assure precise observations as well as the human computers who would turn them into publishable results.
Flamsteed and his successors, who included Edmond Halley, James Bradley, Nevil Maskelyne (first publisher of the Nautical Almanac), and George Airy, carried out their tasks so well over the centuries that our modern knowledge of the motions of the Moon and planets and the proper motions of stars still rests to some degree on measurements made long ago at the Royal Observatory.
Gravitational theory had also independently informed John Couch Adams, a young British mathematician, of the likelihood of a planet beyond Uranus, but when Adams reported his work to Sir George Airy, Britain's Astronomer Royal, he got the runaround.