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Portrait of the English astronomer John Adams

Portrait of the English astronomer John Adams

H401/0038

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

The English astronomer John Couch Adams, 1819- 1892. Adams, the son of a tenant farmer, gained a scholarship to study mathematics at Cambridge. As an undergraduate he began investigating the motion of Uranus. It was apparent that its motion could not be explained by Newton's law of gravitation and the influence of the known planets alone. Adams showed that there must be an eighth undiscovered planet (Neptune) affecting its orbit. He sent his predictions to Airy, the Astronomer Royal, who ignored them until Leverrier in France published similar figures. He was not given credit until much later. He was offered the post of astronomer royal & a knighthood, but refused both.

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