BornSainte-Pezenne, Deux-Sèvres, France, 31 August 1837
DiedMarseilles, France, 31 December 1923
Édouard Stephan is chiefly remembered as the director of the Observatory of Marseilles (1873–1907), where he discovered many new nebulae at a time when astronomers were vacillating about whether these were gas clouds in the Milky Way or separate large stellar systems; in fact there are some of each. He also made pioneering studies of the angular diameters of stars.
Stephan graduated at the top of his class from the École Normale Supérieure in 1862 and was promptly recruited by Urbain Le Verrier of the Paris Observatory. Three years later, he completed his docteur ès sciencesdegree. In 1866, Stephan was assigned to complete a transfer of the Observatory of Marseilles from the Montée des Accoules to its new site on the Plateau Longchamp. In 1873, he was appointed the observatory’s official director. Stephan was also named professor of astronomy in the university of Marseilles in 1879. He...
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