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

Swift, Lewis

Reference work entry

BornClarkson, New York, USA, 29 February 1820

DiedMarathon, New York, USA, 5 January 1913

Lewis Swift discovered 13 comets and 1,248 previously uncataloged nebulae, which placed him after only  William Herschel in the number of nebulae he discovered visually. His report of the hypothetical planet Vulcan was eventually discredited.

The son of Lewis and Ann (néeForbes) Swift, the younger Lewis was born into a distinguished family. His father was a general in the local militia, while his grandfather had served in the Revolutionary War in general Putnam’s personal guard. An earlier ancestor had emigrated from England to Massachusetts in 1630. Swift’s father farmed, and during the winter made farming implements; as a young man Swift also showed mechanical ingenuity. His life was changed when, at age 13, he fractured his hip during a farming accident and was unable to continue his work on the family farm. Instead – incapacitated for farm work – young Swift gained time for study. He trudged...

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Selected References

  1. Bates, Ralph and Blake McKelvey (1947). “Lewis Swift, The Rochester Astronomer.” Rochester History 9, no. 1: 1–19.Google Scholar
  2. Baum, Richard and William Sheehan (1996). In Search of the Planet Vulcan. New York: Plenum Trade.Google Scholar
  3. Seims, Charles (1976). Mount Lowe, the Railway in the Clouds. San Marino, California: Golden West Books.Google Scholar
  4. Sheehan, William (1995). The Immortal Fire Within: The Life and Work of Edward Emerson Barnard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Swift, Lewis (1887). History and Work of The Warner Observatory, Rochester, New York: 1883–1886. Vol. 1. Rochester, New York: Democrat and Chronicle Book and Job Print.Google Scholar
  6. Wlasuk, Peter T. (1996). “‘So much for fame!’: The Story of Lewis Swift.” Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 37: 683–707.ADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lowell ObservatoryFlagstaffUSA