The Nautical Almanac & Its Superintendents

1853: J. R. Hind, Superintendent 1853-1891

J. R. Hind
J. R. Hind

© Royal Astronomical Society

John Russell Hind (1823-1895) was born in Nottingham, the son of a lace manufacturer. He left school at seventeen and worked at the Royal Observatory under the Astronomer Royal George Biddel Airy (1801-1892). He then was appointed Director of George Bishop's own Observatory in Regents Park. In 1853, against stiff opposition, the Admiralty appointed Hind Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac Office [ 23]

Hind became a famous astronomer and minor planet (asteroid) hunter who is credited with having discovered ten minor planets (7) Iris, (8) Flora, (12) Victoria, (14) Irene, (18) Melpomene, (19) Fortuna, (22) Kalliope, (22) Thalia, (27) Euterpe and (30) Urania, twenty-two variable stars (including R Lep, Nova Ophiuchi 1848, and others), four deep sky objects, and two comets. Hind named minor planet (12) Victoria. There was some controversy over this; Hind insisted that it was named after the mythical Roman goddess Victoria and not the monarch. (Minor planets were not named after living people). The variable star R Lep is also known as Hind's Crimson Star; a crater on the Moon and asteroid 1897 Hind were also named after him. Hind was awarded, in 1853, the Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society [ ] and a Royal Medal from the Royal Society in 1855.

At a talk given by Dr. Alan Chapman at a British Astronomical Association (BAA) meeting, he said that Hind never truly felt a part of the astronomical community, as in 1851 when he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, but he did not turn up to sign the book, which was a requirement of receiving the award. However, he did sign the book when he was elected, a second time, in 1863! The citation states:

Distinguished for his acquaintance with the science of Astronomy. Eminent as an Astronomical Observer, and for skill as a Computer.

He is the longest serving Superintendent, who held the office for some 38 years. He introduced many important changes. He replaced Buckhardt's lunar tables for those of Hansen, and later used Le Verrier's uniform solar and planetary tables. Hind ensured that the Almanac was published accurately and on schedule].


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