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James Bradley

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This article describes the English astronomer; for others sharing the name, see James Bradley (disambiguation)
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James Bradley

James Bradley (1693July 13, 1762) was an English astronomer, Astronomer Royal from 1742.

He was born at Sherborne, Gloucestershire in March 1693. He entered Balliol College, Oxford, on March 15 1711, and took degrees of B.A. and M.A. in 1714 and 1717 respectively. His early observations were made at the rectory of Wanstead in Essex, under the tutelage of his uncle, the Rev. James Pound (himself a skilled astronomer) and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on November 6 1718.

He took orders on becoming vicar of Bridstow in the following year, and a small sinecure living in Wales was also procured for him by his friend Samuel Molyneux. He resigned his ecclesiastical preferments in 1721, when appointed to the Savilian chair of astronomy at Oxford, while as reader on experimental philosophy (1729 - 1760) he delivered 79 courses of lectures at the Ashmolean Museum.

His memorable discovery of the aberration of light was announced to the Royal Society in January 1729 (Phil. Trans. xxxv. 637). The observations upon which it was founded were made at Molyneuxs house on Kew Green. He did not announce the supplementary detection of nutation until February 14 1748 (Phil. Trans. xlv. I), when he had tested its reality by minute observations during an entire revolution (18.6 years) of the moons nodes. In 1742, he had been appointed to succeed Edmund Halley as Astronomer Royal; his enhanced reputation enabled him to apply successfully for a set of instruments costing 1000; and with an 8-foot quadrant completed for him in 1750 by John Bird, he accumulated at Greenwich in ten years materials of inestimable value for the reform of astronomy. A crown pension of 250 a year was conferred upon him in 1752.

He retired in broken health, nine years later, to the Cotswold village of Chalford in Gloucestershire, where he died at Skiveralls House on 13 July 1762. The publication of his observations was delayed by disputes about their ownership; but they were finally issued by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, in two folio volumes (1798, 1805). The insight and industry of Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel were, however, needed for the development of their fundamental importance.

Rigauds Memoir prefixed to Miscellaneous Works and Correspondence of James Bradley, D.D. (Oxford, 1832), is practically exhaustive. Other sources of information are: New and General Biographical Dictionary, xii. 54 (1767); Biog. Brit. (Kippis); Fouchys Eloge, Paris Memoirs (1762), p. 231 (Histoire); Delambres Hist. de lastronomie au 18e sicle, p. 413.

Reference

Preceded by:
Edmond Halley
Astronomer Royal
1742–1762
Followed by:
Nathaniel Bliss
de:James Bradley

fr:James Bradley it:James Bradley ja:ジェームズ・ブラッドリー sl:James Bradley

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