Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 12: John Russell Hind

John Russell Hind
May 12, 1823 – December 23, 1895

John Hind was an English astronomer. Some sources give his name as John Russel Hind with only one "L". However, 19th century British astronomical magazines consistently spell his name with two "L"s.

Hind was born in 1823 in Nottingham. At age 17 he went to London to serve an apprenticeship as a civil engineer, but through the help of Charles Wheatstone he left engineering to accept a position at the Royal Greenwich Observatory under George Biddell Airy. Hind remained there from 1840 to 1844, at which time he succeeded W. R. Dawes as director of the private observatory of George Bishop. In 1853 Hind became Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac, a position he held until 1891.

Hind is notable for being one of the early discoverers of asteroids. He also discovered and observed the variable stars R Leporis, U Geminorum, and T Tauri (also called Hind's Variable Nebula), and discovered the variability of μ Cephei. Hind discovered Nova Ophiuchi 1848 (V841 Ophiuchi), the first nova of modern times (since the supernova SN 1604).

Hind's naming of the asteroid 12 Victoria caused some controversy. At the time, asteroids were not supposed to be named after living persons. Hind somewhat disingenuously claimed that the name was not a reference to Queen Victoria, but the mythological figure Victoria.

Hind was a Fellow of the Royal Society (1851) and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1853). The Lunar crater Hind and the asteroid 1897 Hind are named in his honor.

1 comment:

  1. Please note that the original of this photograph belongs to the National Maritime Museum. Thanks!