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

Smyth, Charles Piazzi

Reference work entry

BornNaples, (Italy), 3 January 1819

DiedRipon, (North Yorkshire), England, 21 February 1900

Charles Smyth, Astronomer Royal for Scotland between 1845 and 1888, was the first astronomer to argue for the importance of high-altitude observing sites and did pioneering work in solar spectroscopy.

The son of an amateur astronomer and Royal Navy officer, captain  William Smyth and Annarella (née Warrington) Smyth, Charles Piazzi’s second name honored his godfather, the distinguished Italian astronomer  Giuseppe Piazzi. After retiring in 1824, W. H. Smyth joined the recently formed Astronomical Society of London (later the Royal Astronomical Society [RAS]), and settled in Bedford, England. There he built the well-equipped Bedford Observatory, where the young Charles learned practical astronomy. After attending the Bedford Grammar School, Charles traveled, at the age of 16, to the Cape Observatory, South Africa, to become assistant to  Thomas Maclear.

Smyth stayed 10 years at the Cape doing...

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Selected References

  1. Brück, Hermann A. and Mary T. Brück (1988). The Peripatetic Astronomer: The Life of Charles Piazzi Smyth. Bristol: Adam Hilger.Google Scholar
  2. Eggen, Olin J. (1955). “Charles Piazzi Smyth.” Astronomical Society of the Pacific Leaflet, no. 313.Google Scholar
  3. Hentschel, Klaus (2002). Mapping the Spectrum: Techniques of Visual Representation in Research and Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Schaffer, Simon (1997). “Metrology, Metrication, and Victorian Values.” In Victorian Science in Context, edited by Bernard Lightman, pp. 438–474. Chicago: University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Smyth, C. P. (1858). Teneriffe; An Astronomer’s Experiment. London: Lovell Reeve.Google Scholar
  6. — (1867). Life and Work at the Great Pyramid. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas.Google Scholar
  7. — (1882). Madeira Spectroscopic. Edinburgh: W. and A. K. Johnston.Google Scholar
  8. — (1890). Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid. 5th ed. London: Charles Burnet and Co.Google Scholar
  9. Warner, Brian (1980). “Charles Piazzi Smyth at the Cape of Good Hope.” Sky & Telescope 59, no. 1: 4–5.ADSGoogle Scholar
  10. — (1983). Charles Piazzi Smyth: Astronomer, Artist, His Cape Years 18351845. Cape Town: A. A. Balkema.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK