Famous 18th Century Astronomers

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Astronomers, including Pierre-Simon Laplace, William Herschel, Benjamin Banneker, Edmond Halley and Patrick Wilson.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Pierre-Simon Laplace

Pierre-Simon Laplace.
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: March 23, 1749
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaumont-en-Auge
Died: March 5, 1827

Though French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace is primarily known for his work on the solar system, his research extended to areas such as mathematics and physics, apart from astronomy. Widely known as the Newton of France, he escaped being executed during the French Revolution, owing to his lack of political views.

 2 William Herschel

William Herschel.
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Famous As: Astronomer, Composer
Birthdate: November 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hanover
Died: August 21, 1822

William Herschel was a German-born British astronomer and composer. He pioneered the use of astronomical spectrophotometry and discovered infrared radiation. Impressed by his work, King George III appointed him the Court Astronomer. Herschel often collaborated with his sister, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, a fellow astronomer. In 1816, he was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order. 

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 3 Caroline Herschel

Caroline Herschel.
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: March 16, 1750
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hanover, Germany
Died: January 9, 1848

Caroline Herschel was a German astronomer who is credited with the discovery of many comets, such as 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which is named in her honor. In 1828, Herschel became the first woman to be honored with a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. She was also the first female scientist to receive a salary.

 4 Joseph Louis Lagrange

Joseph Louis Lagrange.
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: January 25, 1736
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: April 10, 1813

Joseph Louis Lagrange was an Italian mathematician and astronomer who made significant contributions to the fields of number theory, analysis, and both classical and celestial mechanics. He served as the director of mathematics at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin for over 20 years. He later moved to France and became a member of the French Academy of Sciences. 

 5 Giovanni Domenico Cassini

Giovanni Domenico Cassini.
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Famous As: Astronomer and Mathematician
Birthdate: June 8, 1625
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Perinaldo, Italy
Died: September 14, 1712
Italian-French mathematician and astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini is best remembered for his discovery of four moons of Saturn, the computation of Jupiter’s rotational period, and the observation of the Cassini Division, or the gap between Saturn’s rings. King Louis XIV made him a member of the Académie des Sciences

 6 Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker.
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Famous As: Compiler of Almanacs
Birthdate: November 9, 1731
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Baltimore County
Died: October 9, 1806

Benjamin Banneker was born to a free African-American mother and a former slave father, and was largely self-educated. While he showed immense talent in both mathematics and astronomy, having predicted a solar eclipse with precision, he also wrote essays on civil rights and rallied against slavery.

 7 Charles Messier

Charles Messier.
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 26, 1730
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Badonviller
Died: April 12, 1817

French astronomer Charles Messier is remembered for his pioneering tabulation of nebulae, making it easier to differentiate between nebulae and comets. King Louis XV name him The Comet Ferret. He was drawn to astronomy when he witnessed a solar eclipse and the great six-tailed comet in childhood.

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 8 Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville
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Famous As: Mathematician, Linguist, Translator, Astronomer, Scientist
Birthdate: December 26, 1780
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jedburgh
Died: November 28, 1872

One of the two pioneering female honorary members of the Royal Astronomical Society, Mary Somerville was a 19th-century polymath and science writer. Though she specialized in math and astronomy, she was also well-versed in botany and geology. The Connection of the Physical Sciences remains her most notable work.

 9 Anders Celsius

Anders Celsius.
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Famous As: Astronomer, Physicist, Mathematician
Birthdate: November 27, 1701
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Uppsala
Died: April 25, 1744
Inventor of the centigrade or the Celcius scale of temperature, Swedish astronomer and scientist Anders Celsius was no stranger to science, being the son of an astronomy professor and the grandson of mathematician Magnus Celsius. His expeditions confirmed Isaac Newton's belief that the earth was flattened at the poles.

 10 Mikhail Lomonosov

Mikhail Lomonosov.
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Famous As: Scientist, Poet, Geologist, Astronomer
Birthdate: November 19, 1711
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lomonossowo, Russia
Died: April 15, 1765

Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov was born to a fisherman father and left his village later to satiate his hunger for knowledge. Apart from reforming Russian language and literature, he also made the first colored glass mosaic in his country and discovered the atmosphere of Venus. He loved simple life.

 11 David Rittenhouse

David Rittenhouse
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: April 8, 1732
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paper Mill Run, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: June 26, 1796

American astronomer, inventor, mathematician, clockmaker and surveyor David Rittenhouse, who served as first director of the United States Mint and remained a  member of the American Philosophical Society, made several significant breakthroughs for the US. His achievements include discovering the atmosphere of Venus and observing its transit, becoming the first American to sight Uranus, and completing an advanced orrery.

 12 Ernst Chladni

Ernst Chladni
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Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer
Birthdate: November 30, 1756
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Died: April 3, 1827

Ernst Chladni was a German musician and physicist. He is often referred to as the father of acoustics for his research on vibrating plates; he came up with a method to observe and study the various modes of vibration. Ernst Chladni is also considered the father of meteoritics for his significant contribution to the study of meteorites.

 13 Guillaume Le Gentil

Guillaume Le Gentil.
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 12, 1725
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Coutances, France
Died: October 22, 1792

Of French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil’s discoveries, the most notable remain the Messier objects M32, M36, and M38. He waited for 8 years in India to observe the transit of Venus, but bad weather prevented his mission. He was mistakenly declared dead in France, but went back to reclaim his life.

 14 François Arago

François Arago
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Famous As: Astronomer, Mathematician, Physicist, Politician, Scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: February 26, 1786
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Estagel
Died: October 2, 1853

French physicist and mathematician François Arago discovered rotatory magnetism, named Arago's rotations. He is also remembered for his research on the wave theory of light and for the reforms he introduced as the French minister of war and the navy. The Eiffel Tower has his name inscribed on it.

 15 Joseph von Fraunhofer

Joseph von Fraunhofer
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Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Chemist
Birthdate: March 6, 1787
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Straubing
Died: June 7, 1826

Joseph von Fraunhofer was a Bavarian optical lens manufacturer and physicist. He is credited with developing diffraction grating and inventing the spectroscope. He is also credited with discovering the Fraunhofer lines, the dark absorption lines produced in the spectrum of the sun. The Fraunhofer Society, Europe's biggest Society for the Advancement of Applied Research, is named in his honor.

 16 John Herschel

John Herschel
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Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: March 7, 1792
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Slough, Buckinghamshire, England
Died: May 11, 1871

The son of renowned astronomer William Herschel, John Herschel was educated at Eton and Cambridge and grew up to be a polymath. Apart from contributing to the field of photography, he was known for cataloguing and naming stars and satellites. He briefly also served as the Master of the Royal Mint.

 17 David Brewster

David Brewster
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: December 11, 1781
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Jedburgh, Scotland
Died: February 10, 1868

David Brewster was a British scientist, inventor, and author. He conducted many experiments in physical optics, especially concerned with the study of the polarization of light. Fellow scientist William Whewell dubbed him the "father of modern experimental optics." He was also a pioneer in photography and invented an improved stereoscope. He wrote numerous works of popular science as well. 

 18 Roger Joseph Boscovich

Roger Joseph Boscovich
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 18, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Died: February 13, 1787

Italian astronomer and mathematician Roger Joseph Boscovich was one of the first European scientists to accept Newton’s gravitational theory. His contributions to astronomy include the application of geometry to compute the orbit of a planet and the equator of a rotating planet. He also laid the foundation of the atomic theory.

 19 Charles Mason

Charles Mason
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Famous As: astronomer
Birthdate: March 31, 1728
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Oakridge
Died: October 25, 1786

 20 Nathaniel Bowditch

Nathaniel Bowditch
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Famous As: Mathematician, Astronomer, Actuary, Physicist, Sailor
Birthdate: March 26, 1773
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Salem
Died: March 16, 1838

At 10, Nathaniel Bowditch was forced to quit studies due to poverty and started working, first at his father’s shop and then as a clerk in other shops. During his voyages in merchant ships, he discovered his love for math. He later redefined maritime navigation with his mathematical research.

 21 Johann Heinrich Lambert

Johann Heinrich Lambert.
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist and Astronomer
Birthdate: August 26, 1728
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Republic of Mulhouse, Independent city-state
Died: September 25, 1777

Johann Heinrich Lambert was a Swiss polymath whose contributions to the fields of physics, mathematics, map projections, astronomy, and philosophy are considered important by many scholars. He is credited with introducing hyperbolic functions into trigonometry. He is also credited with inventing a hygrometer, which is used to measure the quantity of water vapor in soil and air.

 22 Jeremiah Dixon

Jeremiah Dixon
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 27, 1733
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cockfield, County Durham, England
Died: January 22, 1779

 23 Pierre Louis Maupertuis

Pierre Louis Maupertuis
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 28, 1698
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint-Malo, France
Died: July 27, 1759

Pierre Louis Maupertuis was a French mathematician and man of letters. He is credited with having invented the principle of least action; his version is known as Maupertuis's principle. He was also a philosopher and his work in natural history touched upon a range of topics. He was the first President of the Prussian Academy of Science. 

 24 Jean Sylvain Bailly

Jean Sylvain Bailly
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 15, 1736
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 12, 1793

A major figure of the French Revolution, Jean Sylvain Bailly is remembered for leading the Tennis Court Oath. He also made a name for himself as an astronomer and studied the Halley’s Comet and the satellites of Jupiter extensively. As a mayor of Paris, he later defended Marie-Antoinette and was guillotined.

 25 Giuseppe Piazzi

Giuseppe Piazzi
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Famous As: Astronomer, University teacher, Mathematician
Birthdate: July 16, 1746
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ponte in Valtellina
Died: July 22, 1826

Italian Theatine priest, astronomer and mathematician Giuseppe Piazzi discovered and identified the first asteroid Ceres at Palermo Astronomical Observatory that he established in Palermo, Sicily. He first demonstrated the large proper motion of the binary star system 61 Cygni in the constellation Cygnus. He also supervised compilation of the Palermo Catalogue of stars and completion of the Capodimonte (Naples) Observatory.

 26 Antonio de Ulloa

Antonio de Ulloa
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Famous As: Astronomer, Explorer, Meteorologist
Birthdate: January 12, 1716
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Seville
Died: July 3, 1795

Spanish mariner Antonio de Ulloa was sent by the government to explore America and ended up being captured by the British while returning. His scientific zeal made him a Fellow of the Royal Society there. He is remembered for his metallurgical, astronomical, and geographical discoveries and treatises.

 27 Jean-Baptiste Biot

Jean-Baptiste Biot
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Civil engineer, Engineer, Professor
Birthdate: April 21, 1774
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 3, 1862

Jean-Baptiste Biot was a French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer. He was a co-discoverer of what became known as the Biot-Savart law of magnetostatics. He is also credited with establishing the reality of meteorites. He made major contributions to the fields of optics and magnetism as well. Cape Biot in eastern Greenland is named in his honor. 

 28 Nevil Maskelyne

Nevil Maskelyne
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Birthdate: 0000 AD

 29 Johann Bode

Johann Bode
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Birthdate: January 19, 1747
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hamburg
Died: November 23, 1826

Johann Bode was a German astronomer best remembered for popularizing the Titius–Bode law. He is also credited with determining the orbit of planet Uranus and also suggested the name Uranus. He also served as the director of the Berlin Observatory.

 30 Alexis Clairaut

Alexis Clairaut
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 13, 1713
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 17, 1765

Born to a math teacher, French mathematician and physicist Alexis Clairaut had mastered calculus at 10. He is best remembered for devising the Clairaut’s equation and for validating the scientific claims of Sir Isaac Newton. He was part of an expedition to Lapland to ascertain a degree of the meridian arc.

 31 Pieter van Musschenbroek

Pieter van Musschenbroek
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: March 14, 1692
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leiden, Netherlands
Died: September 19, 1761

 32 Jérôme Lalande

Jérôme Lalande
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 11, 1732
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bourg-en-Bresse, France
Died: April 4, 1807

Jérôme Lalande was a French astronomer, freemason, and writer. His parents wanted him to study law, but he became a disciple of astronomer Joseph-Nicholas Delisle instead. He went on to have a brilliant career as an astronomer and was awarded the Lalande Prize by the French Academy of Sciences. His daughter Marie-Jeanne de Lalande also became an astronomer. 

 33 Maria Margaretha Kirch

Maria Margaretha Kirch
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 25, 1670
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: December 29, 1720

Born to a Lutheran minister, Maria Margaretha Kirch was educated at par with boys of her age, which wasn’t the norm back then. She later became the first woman astronomer to discover a comet. The German astronomer also received accolades such as the Gold Medal of the Royal Academy of Sciences.

 34 Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers

Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers
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Birthdate: October 11, 1758
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Germany
Died: March 2, 1840

Apart from being an astronomer, Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers was also a qualified physician. He converted a portion of his house into an observatory and spent a considerable part of his life attempting to discover a planet between Jupiter and Mars. He is best known for introducing his idea of Olbers' paradox.

 35 John Hadley

John Hadley
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 16, 1682
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bloomsbury, London, England
Died: February 14, 1744

 36 John Goodricke

John Goodricke
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Famous As: Amateur astronomer
Birthdate: September 17, 1764
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Groningen, Netherlands
Died: April 20, 1786

 37 Jacques Cassini

Jacques Cassini
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 18, 1677
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 16, 1756

Born to astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, the director of the Paris Conservatory, Jacques Cassini, too, followed in his father’s footsteps. He opposed Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity and released the preliminary tables of the satellites of Saturn. He also helped measure the longitude line between Dunkerque and Perpignan.

 38 César-François Cassini de Thury

César-François Cassini de Thury
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 17, 1714
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Thury-sous-Clermont, France
Died: September 4, 1784

French astronomer and surveyor César-François Cassini de Thury followed in his father Jacques Cassini’s footsteps to create an authentic topographical map of France. His Carte de Cassini was the first map which charted an entire country based on its topography. He had also been the director of the Paris Observatory.

 39 Tobias Mayer

Tobias Mayer
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 17, 1723
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Marbach am Neckar, Germany
Died: February 20, 1762

Tobias Mayer is best remembered for his extensive research on the Moon and lunar tables, which revolutionized the study of longitude at sea. Born amid poverty, he taught himself math and began his career as a math teacher. He eventually chaired economy and math at the University of Göttingen.

 40 Thomas Brattle

Thomas Brattle
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Famous As: Merchant
Birthdate: June 20, 1658
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 18, 1713

American merchant, mathematician, astronomer, and traveller Thomas Brattle is best known for his participation in the Salem Witch Trials and in formation of the Brattle Street Church. A member of the Royal Society, Brattle and his younger brother William improved Harvard College, where he often donated money and served as treasurer and as an unofficial professor of astronomy and mathematics.

 41 Joseph-Nicolas Delisle

Joseph-Nicolas Delisle
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: April 4, 1688
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 11, 1768

French astronomer Joseph-Nicolas Delisle is best known for inventing the temperature scale known as the Delisle scale. He also studied the rings of Saturn and spent 22 years in Russia, training budding astronomers there. He also suggested a collaborative effort of scientists to study the 1761 transit of Venus.

 42 William Wales

William Wales
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: January 31, 1734
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warmfield cum Heath, England
Died: December 29, 1798

 43 Johann Daniel Titius

Johann Daniel Titius
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: January 2, 1729
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chojnice, Poland
Died: December 16, 1796

Johann Daniel Titius, best known for proposing the Titius–Bode law, was a pioneer in measuring distances between the Sun and celestial bodies and planets. There is a crater on the Moon that is named after him. His areas of research also included thermometry and biology.

 44 Nathaniel Bliss

Nathaniel Bliss
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: November 28, 1700
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bisley, England
Died: September 2, 1764

 45 Minggantu

Minggantu
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: 1692 AD
Birthplace: Inner Mongolia, China
Died: 1763 AD

 46 Alexander Wilson

Alexander Wilson
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: 1714 AD
Died: October 16, 1786

 47 James Short

James Short
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 10, 1710
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: June 14, 1768

 48 Samuel Molyneux

Samuel Molyneux
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 16, 1689
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chester, England
Died: April 13, 1728

 49 Paolo Frisi

Paolo Frisi
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 13, 1728
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Melegnano, Italy
Died: November 22, 1784

Italian physicist, mathematician, and astronomer Paolo Frisi is best remembered for his work on hydraulics, expressed through his books such as A Treatise on Rivers and Torrents. His interpretation of the works of eminent scientists such as Galileo and Newton, too, are considered immensely valuable to the scientific community.

 50 Giuseppe Campani

Giuseppe Campani
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Famous As: Optician
Birthdate: 1635 AD
Birthplace: Sant'Anatolia di Narco, Italy
Died: July 28, 1715

Giuseppe Campani  was an Italian optician and astronomer. He was a highly proficient maker of optical instruments and was counted amongst the best in his profession in his time. He made several long-focus lenses for the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini on the orders of King Louis XIV of France. As an astronomer, Campani made many observations himself.