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Bicentenary of Abraham Sharp

Nature volume 150, page 52 (11 July 1942) | Download Citation



ON July 15, 1742,, the mathematician and astronomer Abraham Sharp died at his birth-place, Little Horton, near Bradford, Yorks., at the age of ninety-one, having in various ways furthered the interests of British astronomy. After serving an apprenticeship to a merchant at Manchester, he opened a school at Liverpool, where Flamsteed met him. The meeting led to Sharp joining Flamsteed in the newly erected Royal Observatory at Greenwich where he worked from 1676 until 1690. In 1688 Sharp was given the task of constructing a mural quadrant of 79 in. radius, and this proved to be the most satisfactory instrument Flamsteed possessed. With his other instruments it was removed from Greenwich by his executors after Flamsteed's death, but some eighty years ago parts of a similar instrument by Sharp were given to the Observatory by the Rev. N. S. Heineken. On leaving 'Greenwich, Sharp settled at Little Horton, calculating, making instruments and corresponding with scientific men. He supplied Flamsteed, with observations, and with Crosthwait, Flamsteed's last assistant', he had a share in the publication of the “Historia Cœlestis Britannica”, which appeared in 1725, six years after Flamsteed died. In a letter written in January 1722, Crosthwait wrote to his collaborator that “the memory of the ingenuous and disinterested Mr. Sharp will always, by me, be had in the greatest esteem, next to that of my deceased and good friend Mr. Flamsteed”

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