Sir David Gill, British astronomer

Sir David Gill, British astronomer

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sir David Gill (1843-1914), British astronomer. Gill was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, but spent much of his career in South Africa. He invented the heliometer, a telescope with a divided objective that could measure the distance to the Sun. Soon after, in 1879, he was appointed Her Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. While there, he made a calculation of the distance to the Sun so precise that it was used in almanacs until 1968. A pioneering astrophotographer, he also imaged the entire southern sky. He won the Bruce Medal (1900) and the Royal Astronomical Society's Gold Medal (1882 and 1908), and served as president of the society from 1909-11. He was knighted in 1900. Painting by George Henry.

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