Famous 19th Century Astronomers

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Astronomers, including Carl Friedrich Gauss, Georges Lemaître, Edwin Hubble, Pierre-Simon Laplace and Joseph-Louis Lagrange.

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 Edwin Powell Hubble

Edwin Powell Hubble.
Famous As: Astronomer & Mathematician
Birthdate: November 20, 1889
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marshfield, Missouri, USA
Died: September 28, 1953

While the Hubble Telescope, named after Edwin Powell Hubble, reminds one of his contribution to astronomy, he failed to get a Nobel Prize, as back in his time, the Nobel Committee didn’t recognize astrophysics as a valid science. He is best remembered for his work on galaxies and extragalactic astronomy.

 2 Arthur Eddington

Arthur Eddington.
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 28, 1882
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kendal
Died: November 22, 1944

Arthur Eddington was an English physicist, astronomer, and mathematician. He wrote numerous articles that explained Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity to the English-speaking world. He began his career in academics and eventually shifted to astronomy, becoming the chief assistant to the Astronomer Royal at the Royal Greenwich Observatory. He was a recipient of the Henry Draper Medal. 

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 3 Carl F. Gauss

Carl F. Gauss.
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
Birthdate: April 30, 1777
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brunswick, Germany
Died: February 23, 1855

German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss is remembered for his work in math and science. Known as the Princeps mathematicorum, he laid down tenets such as the Gauss's Law. He had exhibited his talent since an early age and had completed writing Disquisitiones Arithmeticae by 21.

 4 Annie Jump Cannon

Annie Jump Cannon.
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 11, 1863
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dover
Died: April 13, 1941

After studying physics and astronomy at Wellesley College, Annie Jump Cannon traveled across Europe and focused on photography for a decade, before venturing to study astronomy again. At the Harvard Observatory, she made a considerable contribution to the classification of stellar bodies. She was almost deaf due to scarlet fever.

 5 Fritz Zwicky

Fritz Zwicky.
Famous As: Astronomer, Physicist, University teacher
Birthdate: February 14, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Varna
Died: February 8, 1974

Born to a businessman and diplomat father in Bulgaria, Fritz Zwicky was initially sent to Switzerland to study commerce but ended up deviating to math and physics. He then moved to the U.S. to work with Caltech and gained fame for his research on what he called the supernova.

 6 Georges Lemaître

Georges Lemaître.
Famous As: Scientist & Priest
Birthdate: July 17, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Charleroi, Belgium
Died: June 20, 1966

Georges Lemaître was a mathematician, astronomer, and professor of physics. Lemaître was the first person to theorize that the expansion of the universe can be used to explain the recession of nearby galaxies. In 1927, Lemaître published the first estimation of the Hubble constant. He also came up with the Big Bang theory to explain the origin of the universe.

 7 Harlow Shapley

Harlow Shapley
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: November 2, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nashville
Died: October 20, 1972

American scientist Harlow Shapley is best-remembered for ascertaining correct position of Sun within Milky Way Galaxy and for heading the Harvard College Observatory. He determined the size and shape of the Milky Way Galaxy and the Sun’s position within it using the Cepheid variable stars and wrote the Liquid Water Belt that provided scientific acceptance to Hubertus Strughold’s ecosphere theory.

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 8 Sir William Rowan Hamilton

Sir William Rowan Hamilton.
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer and Mathematician
Birthdate: August 4, 1805
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Died: September 2, 1865

Son of a Dublin solicitor, Sir William Rowan Hamilton was raised and educated by his priest uncle from age 3. Initially a master of languages such as Latin, Greek, and Persian, Hamilton began deviating to math at 16. He is remembered for his contribution to optics, Hamiltonian mechanics, and algebra.

 9 Henrietta Swan Leavitt

Henrietta Swan Leavitt.
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 4, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lancaster, Massachusetts
Died: December 12, 1921

Born to a church minister, Henrietta Swan Leavitt grew up to work as a “human computer” at the Harvard Observatory. The American astronomer gained fame for discovering the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variables. However, her brilliant scientific career was halted by her death due to stomach cancer at 53.

 10 Friedrich Bessel

Friedrich Bessel
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 22, 1784
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Minden, Germany
Died: March 17, 1846

Friedrich Bessel was a German mathematician, astronomer, geodesist, and physicist. He was the first astronomer to use the method of parallax in order to determine the distance of a star from the sun. Bessel was a much-respected figure during his time. He was honored with the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

 11 Karl Schwarzschild

Karl Schwarzschild
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, University teacher, Mathematician
Birthdate: October 9, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: May 11, 1916

Karl Schwarzschild was a German astronomer and physicist. He is remembered for his contributions to the general theory of relativity; Schwarzschild came up with the first exact solution to the Albert Einstein field equations. He also contributed immensely to the theory of black holes.

 12 Matthew Fontaine Maury

Matthew Fontaine Maury
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: January 14, 1806
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Spotsylvania County, Virginia, United States
Died: February 1, 1873

American astronomer, naval officer, oceanographer and author Matthew Fontaine Maury, who first served the United States Navy and then the Confederacy States Navy, made significant contributions in oceanography. His book Physical Geography of the Sea is counted among the first comprehensive books on oceanography. Navies and merchant marines across the world adopted his uniform system of recording oceanographic data.

 13 Johann Gottfried Galle

Johann Gottfried Galle
Famous As: Astronomer, University teacher
Birthdate: June 9, 1812
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Radis
Died: July 10, 1910

Johann Gottfried Galle was a German astronomer who worked at the Berlin Observatory. On 23 September 1846, he became the first person to view and recognize the planet Neptune. The discovery of Neptune is considered one of the most significant moments of 19th-century science and is widely regarded as a validation of celestial mechanics.

 14 Percival Lowell

Percival Lowell
Famous As: Astronomer, Mathematician
Birthdate: March 13, 1855
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Boston
Died: November 12, 1916

Born into the famous Brahmin Lowell family of Massachusetts, Percival Lowell studied at Harvard, where he excelled in math. He managed a cotton mill and also spent time in Asia as a diplomat. He is best remembered for initiating the discovery of Pluto and for studying the canals on Mars.

 15 George Ellery Hale

George Ellery Hale
Famous As: Astronomer, Journalist
Birthdate: June 29, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: February 21, 1938

George Ellery Hale was an American solar astronomer. He discovered magnetic fields in sunspots, a discovery that gained him international fame. He played key roles in the planning or construction of several world-leading telescopes, including the 40-inch refracting telescope at Yerkes Observatory. He was a major figure in the foundation of the International Union for Cooperation in Solar Research. 


 16 Maria Mitchell

Maria Mitchell.
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: August 1, 1818
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nantucket
Died: June 28, 1889
Maria Mitchell was motivated by her amateur astronomer father to venture into astronomy, and he taught her to operate several astronomical instruments. She later grew up to be America’s first professional female astronomer and is best remembered for discovering the comet 1847 VI, also known as Miss Mitchell's Comet.

 17 Milutin Milanković

Milutin Milanković
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 28, 1879
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dalj, Croatia
Died: December 12, 1958

 18 August Ferdinand Möbius

August Ferdinand Möbius
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Pforta

August Ferdinand Möbius was a German theoretical astronomer and mathematician. He is best remembered for his discovery of the Möbius strip, the simplest non-orientable surface. He is also remembered for introducing the Barycentric coordinate system. Several mathematical concepts like the Möbius transformations and the Möbius plane are named in his honor.

 19 Urbain Le Verrier

Urbain Le Verrier
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: March 11, 1811
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint-Lô, France
Died: September 23, 1877

French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier revolutionized celestial mechanics by ascertaining the existence of Neptune by mathematical means. Apart from winning the Royal Society of London’s Copley Medal, he had also led the Observatory of Paris as its director. His name remains one of the 72 engraved on the Eiffel Tower.

 20 Giovanni Schiaparelli

Giovanni Schiaparelli
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: March 14, 1835
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Savigliano, Italy
Died: July 4, 1910

Giovanni Schiaparelli made headlines when he discovered the canals of Mars, suggesting the existence of intelligent life forms on the planet. He also discovered the asteroid named Hesperia and was associated with the Brera Observatory in Milan for more than 40 years. He had also been a senator of Italy.

 21 Ernst Abbe

Ernst Abbe
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, University teacher
Birthdate: January 23, 1840
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Eisenach
Died: January 14, 1905

 22 Simon Newcomb

Simon Newcomb
Famous As: Astronomer, Mathematician, Economist, Novelist, Writer, Teacher, University teacher, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: March 12, 1835
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nova Scotia
Died: July 11, 1909

Initially a herbalist’s apprentice, Simon Newcomb later deviated to mathematics and astronomy. Born to a schoolteacher, he had loved math since age 5 but wasn’t formally educated. He later joined Harvard University, taught math at the US Navy, detected locations of celestial bodies, and wrote a science-fiction novel, too.

 23 George Biddell Airy

George Biddell Airy
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: July 27, 1801
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Alnwick, England
Died: January 2, 1892
English astronomer George Biddell Airy is best known for locating Greenwich as the prime meridian. He was ripped apart by critics for allegedly failing to help British astronomer John Couch Adams to discover Neptune. The Astronomer Royal was also the first to cure astigmatism by using cylindrical lenses.

 24 Camille Flammarion

Camille Flammarion
Famous As: astronomer, writer, balloonist, science fiction writer
Birthdate: February 26, 1842
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Val-de-Meuse
Died: June 7, 1925

French astronomer Camille Flammarion began his career as a human computer at the Paris Observatory at 16. He believed intelligent beings from Mars had tried to communicate with people on Earth in the past. He also published L'Astronomie and penned sci-fi novels such as Omega: The Last Days of the World.

 25 Mary Ward

Mary Ward
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 27, 1827
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ballylin, County Offaly, Ireland
Died: 1869 AD

 26 Antonie Pannekoek

Antonie Pannekoek
Famous As: Astronomer, Historian of science, Philosopher, University teacher
Birthdate: January 2, 1873
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vaassen
Died: April 28, 1960

 27 Vesto Slipher

Vesto Slipher
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: November 11, 1875
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mulberry
Died: November 8, 1969

Vesto Slipher was an American astronomer who was the first to discover that distant galaxies are redshifted and also the first to relate these redshifts to velocity. He also performed the first measurements of radial velocities for galaxies. He completed his doctorate at Indiana University and spent his entire career at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff. 

 28 Thomas Brisbane

Thomas Brisbane
Famous As: Officer
Birthdate: July 23, 1773
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland
Died: January 27, 1860

 29 John Couch Adams

John Couch Adams
Famous As: Mathematician, Astronomer, University teacher
Birthdate: June 5, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Laneast
Died: January 21, 1892

 30 William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse

William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse
Famous As: Astronomer, Politician
Birthdate: June 17, 1800
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: York
Died: October 31, 1867

 31 Hippolyte Fizeau

Hippolyte Fizeau
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer
Birthdate: September 23, 1819
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
Died: September 18, 1896

Physicist Hippolyte Fizeau is best remembered for conducting the Fizeau experiment, named after him, which measured the speed of light. His other achievements include his contribution to the discovery of the Doppler effect and his description of the capacitor to improve the efficiency of the induction coil.

 32 James Nasmyth

James Nasmyth
Famous As: Astronomer, Engineer
Birthdate: August 19, 1808
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: May 7, 1890

 33 Richard Christopher Carrington

Richard Christopher Carrington
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: May 26, 1826
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chelsea, London, United Kingdom
Died: November 27, 1875

 34 Angelo Secchi

Angelo Secchi
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 28, 1818
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Reggio Emilia, Italy
Died: February 26, 1878

A pioneer in astronomical spectroscopy, Italian Jesuit priest and astronomer Angelo Secchi was among the first scientists who authoritatively stated that the Sun is a star. Notable contributions of Secchi, who served as director of the observatory at the Roman College for nearly three decades, includes discovering three comets and solar spicules; and inventing Secchi disk, heliospectrograph and telespectroscope.

 35 William Ferrel

William Ferrel
Famous As: Meteorologist
Birthdate: January 29, 1817
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pennsylvania, United States
Died: September 18, 1891

Though mostly self-taught, William Ferrel grew up to be a school teacher and later joined the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac. He was later part of the U.S. Army’s Signal Service and is best remembered for his meteorological research and his explanation of the deflection of air currents on Earth.

 36 Joseph Nicollet

Joseph Nicollet
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: July 24, 1786
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cluse, France
Died: September 11, 1843

French explorer and mathematician Joseph Nicollet had begun his career as a math teacher at age 19. Faced with financial issues, he later moved to the U.S., where he was financially helped by a wealthy family. His exploration of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers helped him chart maps of the region.

 37 Edward Sabine

Edward Sabine
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: October 14, 1788
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: June 26, 1883

 38 Henry Draper

Henry Draper
Famous As: Doctor
Birthdate: March 7, 1837
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Prince Edward County, Virginia, United States
Died: November 20, 1882

A practicing physician, Henry Draper later taught at the New York University medical school. However, he later devoted all his time to his passion, astronomy, photographing celestial bodies and following in his doctor and amateur astronomer father’s footsteps. He was the first to photograph a stellar spectrum and a nebula.

 39 Francis Baily

Francis Baily
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: April 28, 1774
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Newbury, England
Died: August 30, 1844

 40 Warren De la Rue

Warren De la Rue
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: January 15, 1815
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Guernsey, Guernsey
Died: April 19, 1889

 41 Alexis Bouvard

Alexis Bouvard
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 27, 1767
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Contamines, France
Died: June 7, 1843

Alexis Bouvard was a French astronomer, particularly noted for predicting the existence of an eighth planet in the solar system. Also known for discovering eight comets, he wrote Tables astronomiques of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus; but when his tables for Uranus failed, he correctly hypothesized that an unknown planet, later discovered as Neptune, is causing irregularity in its movement.

 42 Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre

Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 19, 1749
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Amiens, France
Died: August 19, 1822

It is believed Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre had acquired his habit of reading from his fear of losing his eyesight. He later became a professor of astronomy and served Paris Observatory as its director. He also penned significant works such as Histoire de l'astronomie. His name remains engraved on the Eiffel Tower.

 43 Franz Xaver von Zach

Franz Xaver von Zach
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 4, 1754
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pest, Budapest, Hungary
Died: September 2, 1832

 44 Ernest William Brown

Ernest William Brown
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: November 29, 1866
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hull, England
Died: July 22, 1938

 45 Peter Andreas Hansen

Peter Andreas Hansen
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 8, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tonder, Schleswig, Denmark
Died: March 28, 1874

Born to a goldsmith, Peter Andreas Hansen had initially learned the art of watchmaking. However, his skills as an astronomer eventually earned him the post of the director of the Seeberg Observatory near Gotha. His best-known works are related to optics, probability theory, and the motion of the Moon.

 46 Giovanni Battista Amici

Giovanni Battista Amici
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: March 25, 1786
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Modena, Italy
Died: April 10, 1863

Italian astronomer, microscopist and botanist Giovanni Battista Amici is best-remembered for effecting significant improvements in mirrors of reflecting telescopes and development of microscope. His subjects of studies included the satellites of Jupiter and double stars in astronomy and infusoria and fructification of plants in biology. He invented dipleidoscope and direct vision prism and was the first to discover pollen tubes.

 47 Benjamin Apthorp Gould

Benjamin Apthorp Gould
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 27, 1824
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 26, 1896

Benjamin Apthorp Gould was a child prodigy who wrote Latin poems at age 5. He grew up to excel in mathematics and astronomy and graduated from Harvard. Apart from discovering the Gould belt, he also founded the Astronomical Journal. His book Uranometria Argentina earned him a Royal Astronomical Society gold medal.

 48 Dominique, comte de Cassini

Dominique, comte de Cassini
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 30, 1748
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 18, 1845

The son of renowned French astronomer César-François Cassini de Thury, Dominique, comte de Cassini followed in his father’s footsteps to serve as the director of the Paris Observatory. He also completed the map of France that his father had begun. His monarchist ideals got him imprisoned by the revolutionary government.

 49 William Cranch Bond

William Cranch Bond
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 9, 1789
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Falmouth, Maine, United States
Died: January 29, 1859

Born to a clockmaker father, William Cranch Bond made his first clock at 15 and then took over his father’s William Bond Clock Shop. Watching a solar eclipse pushed him into astronomy, and he ended up discovering Hyperion, the eighth moon of Saturn. He was also the Harvard Observatory’s first director.

 50 Wilhelm Beer

Wilhelm Beer
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: January 4, 1797
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: March 27, 1850

Apart from being an astronomer, Wilhelm Beer was also a banker and the brother of legendary composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. His Mappa Selenographica, was the first lunar map that was classified into quadrants. Along with Johann Heinrich Mädler, he also created the first globe for Mars.