Joseph Norman Lockyer

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Lockyer, Joseph Norman


Born May 17, 1836, in Rugby; died Aug. 16, 1920, in Salcombe Regis, Devonshire. British astrophysicist. Director of the observatory in South Kensington from 1885 to 1913.

Lockyer studied the solar spectrum, sunspots, and the sun’s chromosphere, prominences, and corona. In the spectrum of the chromosphere and the prominences (for the study of which Lockyer proposed a new method independently of the French astronomer P. J. Janssen) he detected in 1868 the line of a hypothetical element—helium—discovered on the earth only in 1895 by the British chemist W. Ramsay. Lockyer also studied gas glow under various pressures and temperatures. In 1887 he proposed a classification of stellar spectra and in 1902 published A Catalog of the Spectra of 470 Bright Stars. He also studied problems related to stellar evolution; however, his ideas proved to be erroneous. In 1869, Lockyer founded the journal Nature in London and was its editor for 50 years.


Cortie, A. L. “Sir Norman Lockyer, 1836–1920.” The Astrophysical Journal, 1921, vol. 53, no. 4.