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

Stewart, Balfour

  • Paul Charbonneau
Reference work entry

BornEdinburgh, Scotland, 1 November 1828

DiedBallymagarvey, Co. Meath, Ireland, 18 December 1887

Balfour Stewart made pioneering contributions to the study of radiant heat, investigated solar-terrestrial relationships, and constructed a physical model of the solar cycle. The son of a tea merchant, Stewart was first educated in Dundee, and at the early age of 13, entered Saint Andrew’s University. He subsequently transferred to the University of Edinburgh, where he studied natural philosophy under James David Forbes. Under parental pressure, he left the university at age 18 to undertake a business apprenticeship in Leith, which was followed by a commercial venture in Australia.

Having finally decided to opt for physics over business, Stewart returned to Britain, first for a brief stay at Kew Observatory, and, starting in 1853, as an assistant to Forbes at the University of Edinburgh. In 1859, he left Edinburgh to take on the directorship of Kew Observatory. It was during his Kew years...

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Selected References

  1. Charbonneau, Paul (2002). “The Rise and Fall of the First Solar Cycle Model.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 33: 351–372.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Schuster, Arthur (1888). “Balfour Stewart.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 48: 166–168.Google Scholar
  3. — (1888). “Memoir of the Late Professor Balfour Stewart, LL. D., F.R.S.” Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, 4th ser., 1: 253–272.Google Scholar
  4. Siegel, Daniel M. (1976). “Balfour Stewart and Gustav Kirchhoff: Two Independent Approaches to ‘Kirchhoff’s Radiation Law.’” Isis 67: 565–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. — (1976). “Stewart, Balfour.” In Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie. Vol. 13, pp. 51–53. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Charbonneau
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MontréalMontréalCanada