Online Encyclopedia

SIR JOSEPH NORMAN LOCKYER (1836– )

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 855 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR JOSEPH NORMAN LOCKYER (1836– ), English astronomer, was born at Rugby on the 17th of May 1836. After completing his education on the Continent of Europe, he obtained a clerkship in the War Office in 1857. His leisure was devoted to the study of astronomy, and he was appointed in 187o secretary to the duke of Devonshire's royal commission on science. In 1875 he was transferred to the Science and Art Department at South Kensington, and on the foundation of the Royal College of Science he became director of the solar physics observatory and professor of astronomical physics. Eight British government expeditions for observing total solar eclipses were conducted by him between 187o and 1905. On the 26th of October 1868he communicated to the Paris Academy of Sciences, almost simultaneously with Dr P. J. C. Janssen, a spectroscopic method for observing the solar prominences in daylight, and the names of both astronomers appear on a medal which was struck by the French government in 1872 to commemorate the discovery. Lockyer was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1869, and received the Rumford medal in 1874. He initiated in 1866 the spectroscopic observation of sunspots; applied Doppler's principle in 1869 to determine the radial velocities of the chromospheric gases; and successfully investigated the chemistry of the sun from 1872 onward. Besides numerous contributions to the Proceedings of the Royal and the Royal Astronomical Societies, he published several books, both explanatory and speculative. The Chemistry of the Sun (1887) is an elaborate treatise on solar spectroscopy based on the hypothesis of elemental dissociation through the intensity of solar heat. The Meteoritic Hypothesis (189o) propounds a comprehensive scheme of cosmical evolution, which has evoked more dissent than approval, while the Sun's Place in Nature (1897) lays down the lines of a classification of the stars, depending upon their supposed temperature-relations. Among Lockyer's other works are—The Dawn of Astronomy (1894), to which Stonehenge and other British Stone Monuments astronomically considered (1906) may be considered a sequel; Recent and coming Eclipses (1897); and Inorganic Evolution (1900). He was created K.C.B. in 1897, and acted as president of the British Association in 1903–1904. His fifth son, WILLIAM JAMES STEWART LOCKYER (b. 1868), devoted himself to solar research, and became chief assistant in the Solar Physics Observatory, South Kensington.
End of Article: SIR JOSEPH NORMAN LOCKYER (1836– )
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