Our Astronomical Column

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    DR. JOHANN LAMONT.—The death of Dr. Lament, so long connected with the Royal Observatory of Munich (Bogenhausen), was mentioned last week, He was of Scotch extraction, and was boin at Braemar on December 13, 1805. He was at first assistant at Munich, under Soldner, and was appointed director of the observatory in 1835, and Professor of Astronomy in the University of Munich in 1852. His name has, perhaps, been chiefly associated with terrestrial magnetism, his first publication on this subject being the “Handbuch des Erdmagnetismus” which appeared in 1838. In 1851 he wrote on the ten-year period of magnetic declination, of the existence of which he was an independent discoverer, and the same year he published at Stuttgart his “Astronomic und Erdmagnetismus,” and a long series of memoirs bearing upon magnetical science is due to him. He is also the inventor of a set of instruments for determining the magnetic elements very widely used by continental magneticians. As an astronomer we find him occupied with the observation of Halley's comet with the refractor of eleven inches aperture, erected in 1835, by means of which he was able to follow the comet until May 17, 1836, nearly a fortnight later than it was seen by Sir John Herschel, with his 20-feet reflector, at the Cape of Good Hope, the last glimpse of the comet being thus obtained by Lamont. It was then distant from the earth 2·69, and from the sun 1·86, so that the intensity of light was almost precisely the same as when the comet was first detected by Dumouchel at Rome, August 5, 1835. In 1836 he calculated elements of the Saturnian satellites Enceladus and Tethys, which had been observed at Munich, and also discussed Sir W. Hersehel's observations of the latter. In the summer of this year he measured the diameter of Pallas, and formed charts of stars in the clusters in Scutum and Perseus. In the following year he made a series of measures of the two brighter satellites of Uranus, and deduced from them a value of the mass of the primary considerably less than that previously adopted from Bouvard's tables. The most extensive astronomical work executed at Munich under Lamont's direction is the observations of zones of stars from + 15° to — 30° published in successive volumes of the Annalen der k. Sternwarte bei München, and in the previous series; various catalogues founded thereon, and containing together upwards of 30,000 stars reduced to the year 1850, have been published in the supplementary volumes of the Annals. Mr. Hind found in Lamont's zones two observations of Neptune before its planetary character was recognised. The magnitudes of the telescopic stars in these zones will prove serviceable from time to time in the investigations of the periods of variable stars.

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    Our Astronomical Column . Nature 20, 425 (1879) doi:10.1038/020425a0

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