Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April 7: James Glaisher

James Glaisher
April 7, 1809 - February 7, 1903

James Glaisher was an English meteorologist and aeronaut.

Glaisher was an assistant at the Royal Greenwich Observatories at Cambridge and Greenwich, and Superintendent of the Department of Meteorology and Magnetism at Greenwich for thirty-four years.

In 1845, Glaisher published his clue point tables, for the measurement of humidity.
Glaisher was a founder member of the Meteorological Society (1850), and the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain (1866).

He is most famous, however, as a pioneering balloonist. Between 1862 and 1866, usually with Henry Tracey Coxwell as his co-pilot, Glaisher made numerous ascents in order to measure the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere at its highest levels. One one ascent in 1862, he broke the world record for altitude, but passed out around 8,800 metres before a reading could be taken. Estimates suggest that he rose to more than 9,500 metres and as much as 10,900 metres above sea-level.

He had ten children, including the mathematician James Whitbread Lee Glaisher (1848-1928).

The Lunar crater Glaisher is named in his honor.

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