Biographical data:

Newcomb, Simon

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Title Rear-Admiral (USN)
Official Number (USN)
Birth 12/03/1835 Death 11/07/1909
Place Wallace Place Washington
Area Area DC
Country Nova Scotia Country USA
His ancestors had settled in Canada in 1761. The son of a school teacher he grew up in several villages in the Maritimes. In 1852 he moved to the United States and graduated from Harvard University (Lawrence Scientific School) with a BSc. in Mathematics. In 1854-56 was engaged as a teacher in Maryland. He was an astronomer, mathematician and economist. In 1857 he worked as a computer of the U.S. Navy's Nautical Almanac Office in Washington DC. He received Honorary Degrees from seventeen of the world's best universities. He wrote "The Reminiscences of an Astronomer" in 1903. In Wallace Nova Scotia there is a monument to his memory. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC. His stone in section 1 of the Cemetery reads "Profesor of Mathematics, United States Navy, 1835-1909. The heavens declare this glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork."
Military Service
In 1861 he was appointed as Professor of Mathematics at the United States Navy and assigned to duty at the Naval Observtory in Washington. He was appointed, late in life, as a Rear-Admiral USN. He served as Professor of Mathematics in the U.S. Navy and retired as Rear-Admiral. He also was appointed as Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at the John Hopkins University. He served as the editor of the American Journal of Mathematics and was the first president of the American Astronomical Society. He received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Copley Medal of the Royal Society, as well as the Schubert Prize of the Imperial Academy of Sciences of Russia. He wrote over 540 books and papers. His most important work was in developing tables of astronomcial constants. His tables of data concerning the movements of the Sun, Mercury, Uranus, and Neptune played a big part in the development of a universal system of astronomical standards. He was assigned to duty at the United States naval observatory in Washington. There he negotiated the contract for the 26-inch equatorial telescope authorized by congress, supervised its construction, and planned the tower and dome in which it is mounted. In 1871 he was appointed secretary of the commission that was created by congress for the purposes of observing the transit of Venus on 9 December, 1874, which organized the expeditions that were sent out by the United States government. He visited the Saskatchewan region in 1860 to observe an eclipse of the sun, and in 1870-'1 was sent to Gibraltar for a similar purpose, and in 1882 he observed the transit of Venus at the Cape of Good Hope. Meanwhile in 1877 he became senior professor of mathematics in the United States Navy, with the relative rank of captain, and since that time has been in charge of the office of the "American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac." A large corps of civilian assistants in Washington and elsewhere, as well as officers of the navy who are detailed to that office, work under his direction. In addition to these duties, in 1884 he became professor of mathematics and astronomy in Johns Hopkins, where he has charge of the graduate students in astronomy. Professor Newcomb has been intimately associated with the equipment of the Lick observatory of California, and examined the glass of the great telescope and its mounting before its acceptance by the trustees.
Vessels Owned
Aircraft Flown
Named Features In 1945 the AGS-14 USS Simon Newcomb was named for him by the US Navy.
Trudel, Jean-Louis (2004);
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