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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/119

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SKETCH OF MR. J. N. LOCKYER, F.R.S.

SKETCH OF MR. J. N. LOCKYER, F. R. S.

THE subject of this notice, Mr. joseph norman lockyer, is a young astronomer who has cultivated his science assiduously, and made his mark as an investigator in the field of solar physics. He was born on the 17th of May, 1836, at Rugby, in Warwickshire, England. He inherited from his father a predilection for scientific studies; for, if the elder Lockyer had not the honor of being the first, he was one of the first who contrived methods of telegraphing by electricity.

At a very early age, young Lockyer was deprived of his parents, and, after attending one or two private schools in England, where he picked up the first rudiments of his education, the orphan boy went abroad, and there continued his studies for several years. Upon his return to England, he obtained a position under government, in the War-office, the duties of which have occupied him regularly for the past sixteen years; his astronomical and literary work having been performed in the intervals of time snatched from the government service. In 1858, he married an accomplished and intelligent lady, who not only sympathized with him in his scientific pursuits, but has also shared his work and rendered the most valuable assistance in various of his undertakings.

In 1862, he contributed a very important paper to the memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society, on the planet Mars, giving the results of his telescopic observations on the physical conditions and configuration of its surface. In 1865, in conjunction with Thomas Hughes, the popular author of "Tom Brown at Rugby," he was appointed editor of the army regulations, and placed upon an improved basis the system of War-office legislation. In 1865, in recognition of his services as an astronomical observer, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Solar observations had for some time attracted much of Mr. Lockyer's attention, and in that year he propounded his method for observing the grand solar phenomena of the red flames with the spectroscope at any time when the sun is visible, whereas previously it had been impossible to see them except under the obscuration of a total or annular eclipse. A more powerful spectroscope than any then available was needed to solve this problem, and, at Mr. Lockyer's solicitation, the Royal Society made a grant for this purpose. Vexatious delays occurred in the construction of the instrument, and he did not get it until two years later. The idea, however, proved successful, and Mr. Lockyer made the brilliant discovery in which he had been so long baffled for lack of means. He sent the account of it to the French Academy, and his note had been hardly read, when news came