1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mouchez, Amédée Ernest Barthélémy

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 18
Mouchez, Amédée Ernest Barthélémy by Agnes Mary Clerke

MOUCHEZ, AMÉDÉE ERNEST BARTHÉLÉMY (1821–1892), French astronomer, was born at Madrid of French parents on the 24th of August 1821. At the age of sixteen he entered the naval school at Brest, and after serving with distinction in various ships, was appointed in 1856 to the command of the “Bisson.” Towards the close of the Franco-Prussian War he made an admirable defence of Brest, and his organization of the French expedition to the island of St Paul to observe the transit of Venus in 1874 obtained his election to the Academy of Sciences and his promotion as commander of the Legion of Honour. On the 27th of June 1878 he succeeded Urbain Leverrier as director of the National Observatory of Paris, and was raised to the rank of rear-admiral. The fourteen years of his directorship were marked by a great increase in the activity of the institution. The observatory grounds were enlarged; two powerful instruments of the novel kind known as coudé equatorial were installed; a spectroscopic department was established, and the gigantic task of re-observing all Lalande’s stars was completed. He published twenty-one volumes of Annales, as well as the first two volumes of the great Catalogue de l’observatoire de Paris; founded the Bulletin astronomique, and set on foot two schools of practical astronomy, one at Paris, the other at Montsouris, for the special instruction of naval and military officers, explorers and surveyors. His most memorable work, however, was the inauguration of international operations for charting the heavens. The advances in stellar photography made by Paul and Prosper Henry and others suggested to him the magnificent idea of obtaining, through the collaboration of astronomers in all parts of the world, an autographic picture of the entire sphere containing more than fifty million stars, which should faithfully record in future ages the state of the sky at the end of the 19th century. Although he did not live to see its completion, he had the satisfaction of knowing that the ultimate success of this vast scheme was assured. He died suddenly at his country seat at Wissous, near Antony, on the 25th of June 1892.

See Month. Notices Roy. Astr. Society, liii. 226; Observatory, xv. 305 (D. Klumpke); Nature, xlvi. 253; Rapport annuel sur l'observatoire de Paris pour l'année 1892.  (A. M. C.)