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Portrait of Sir George Airy

Portrait of Sir George Airy


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Portrait in ink of Sir George Airy (1801-92), English astronomer. Airy graduated at the top of his class from Cambridge in 1823, and was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1835. He extensively modernised the Greenwich Observatory, bringing it up to the highest standards. Although an excellent organiser and theoretician in many respects, Airy was embarassed more than once by his opinions. He refused to believe in Faraday's 'lines of force', and missed the discovery of Neptune by his views on Adams' data. He did make many advances in the design of telescopes, however, and produced the first spectacle lenses to correct astigmatism. He was knighted in 1872, and retired in 1881.

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