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

Crabtree, William

  • Jean-Pierre LuminetEmail author
Reference work entry

BornBroughton near Salford, Greater Manchester, England, June 1610

DiedBroughton near Salford, Greater Manchester, England, July 1644

William Crabtree was among the first to observe a transit of Venus.

The son of a prosperous yeoman farmer, Crabtree studied at Manchester Grammar School. He received no university education, making a career as a clothier or a merchant in Manchester from 1630 or so. He was also employed as a land surveyor and a cartographer.

Self-educated in astronomy, Crabtree made precise observations by which he could establish the latitude of Manchester. By such observations, he was convinced of the accuracy of the Rudolphine Tables published by  Johannes Kepler in 1627, so Crabtree converted the tables to decimal form and accepted Kepler’s theory of elliptical planetary orbits.

Crabtree’s correspondence with  Jeremiah Horrocks and  William Gascoigneabout clocks, telescopes, and micrometers shows his recognition of the importance of instruments in refining...

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Selected References

  1. Chapman, Allan (1982). Three North Country Astronomers. Manchester: N. Richardson.Google Scholar
  2. —(1996). William Crabtree, 16101644: Manchesters First Mathematician. Manchester: Manchester Statistical Society.Google Scholar
  3. Derham, William (1711). “Observations upon the Spots that have been upon the Sun.” Philosophical Transactions 27: 270–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. —(1717). “Extracts from Mr. Gascoigne’s and Mr. Crabtrie’s Letters.” Philosophical Transactions 30: 603–610.Google Scholar
  5. Kollerstrom, N. (1991). “Crabtree’s Venus-Transit Measurement.” Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 32: 51.ADSGoogle Scholar
  6. Whatton, A. B. (1859). “A Memoir of His Life and Labours.” In Jeremiah Horrocks, The Transit of Venus across the Sun, translated by A. B. Whatton. London: Macintosh.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Observatoire de ParisMeudonFrance