William H. Smyth, British astronomer

William H. Smyth, British astronomer

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: William Henry Smyth (1788-1865), British astronomer, in his naval uniform. Smyth served in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, and was made Commander (Captain) in 1815. Although he retired from active service in 1825, he eventually reached the rank of Admiral. His interest in astronomy was sparked by a meeting in 1817 with the Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi. Smyth established a private observatory at Bedford, England, and published many of his observations. He was President of the Royal Astronomical Society (1845-1847), after being awarded its Gold Medal in 1845. A lunar mare, Mare Smythii, is named in his honour.

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