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Nicolas-Louis De La Caille, Astronomer and Geodesist: South African Astronomical Observatory

Ian Stewart Glass

Abstract

This is a comprehensive biography of a great observational astronomer, Nicolas-Louis de La Caille (1713–62). Though educated for the priesthood, La Caille refused to be ordained and turned instead to astronomy. Early on he was made Professor of Mathematics at the Collège Mazarin, where he propagated Newtonian ideas. He also built an observatory from which he conducted his lifelong programme of improving the positions of the bright stars and determining the orbits of the Moon and planets. At the Cape of Good Hope (1751–53) he made the first systematic telescopic sky survey and mapped the southe ... More

Keywords: La Caille, astrometry, geodesy, constellations, sky survey, Newtonianism, Cape of Good Hope, planetary distances, planetary orbits, perturbation theory, Lunars, Mazarin College, Enlightenment

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780199668403
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668403.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Ian Stewart Glass, author
Astronomer, South African Astronomical Observatory and Adjunct Professor, James Cook University