Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Savary, Felix

  • Thomas Hockey
Reference work entry

BornParis, France, 4 October 1797

DiedEstagel, Pyrénées-Orientales, France, 15 July 1841

A student and then faculty member at the École Polytechnique, Felix Savary was the first to compute the orbit of a binary star in 1827, showing that the orbit is elliptical and, therefore, that  Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity apply outside the Solar System.

The double star ξ Ursa Majoris is made up of bright components with a 60-year period; it was an ideal candidate for applying Newton’s law of gravitation to the stars.  William Herschel had discovered the pair (1780), and  Friedrich Struve had more recently measured it, but it was Savary who just beat  John Herschel in making the calculation (published in Connaisance des Temps pour l’an 1830).

Savary is better known to physicists as the colleague of André-Marie Ampère and to mathematicians for describing the geometrical figure known as the roulette.

Selected Reference

  1. Aitken, Robert Grant (1935). The Binary Stars. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.MATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Hockey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth ScienceUniversity of Northern IowaCedar FallsUSA