Hind, John Russell (DNB01)

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HIND, JOHN RUSSELL (1823–1895), astronomer, was born on 12 May 1823 at Nottingham, where his father, John Hind, who was one of the first to introduce a Jacquemard loom into Nottingham, owned a lace factory. At the age of twelve he began to observe the heavens, and became at sixteen a regular contributor on astronomical subjects to the 'Nottingham Journal,' publishing besides, in an 'Atmospheric Almanac,' weather predictions for 1839 and 1840. In the latter year he was sent to London as assistant to Carpmael, a civil engineer, but quickly obtained a post in the magnetic and meteorological department of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. He took part in the first chronometric determination of the longitude of Valencia in 1843, and accepted, in 1844, the charge of the observatory founded by George Bishop [q. v.] in the Regent's Park. There, in the course of nine years, he discovered ten asteroids, two comets, a remarkable variable nebula in Taurus (Monthly Notices, xxiv. 65), and several variable stars, including the temporary apparition of May 1848. Accompanying William Rutter Dawes [q. v.] to Sweden for the total eclipse of 28 July 1851, he made some interesting observations on the 'rose-coloured flames' (Memoirs Royal Astron. Society, xxi. 82), and in 1853 succeeded William Samuel Stratford [q. v.] as superintendent of the 'Nautical Almanac.' He retained, however, the general direction of Bishop's observatory, and transferred his residence to Twickenham on its removal thither in 1861. In 1891 he withdrew from the 'Nautical Almanac' office under the provisions of the superannuation scheme, and died at Twickenham on 23 Dec. 1895 of heart disease, the premonitory symptoms of which had early impeded his activities. His grave is in Twickenham churchyard. He married in 1846, and had six children.

Hind joined the Royal Astronomical Society on 13 Dec. 1844, acted as its foreign secretary 1847-57, and as president 1880-1881. In 1847 and 1851 respectively he was chosen a corresponding member of the Societe Philomathique and of the Academie des Sciences of Paris; he was a fellow of the Royal Society both of London and of Edinburgh, being elected to the former on 4 June 1863; the university of Glasgow conferred upon him an honorary degree of LL.D. in 1882, and the academies of St. Petersburg and of Lund inscribed him among their associates. He was thrice the recipient of the Lalande prize, and gold medals were conferred upon him by the Royal Astronomical Society in 1853 (besides an equivalent testimonial in 1848), by the Royal Society) and by the King of Denmark for his detection of the first comet of 1847; and his profile figured on the obverse of a medal struck by the French Institute in 1869 to commemorate the discovery of the hundredth asteroid. The bestowal of 100l. from the Royal Bounty Fund in 1851, and of a civil list pension of 200l. a year in 1852, more substantially rewarded his services to science.

He wrote: 1. 'The Solar System, 'London, 1852. 2. 'An Introduction to Astronomy, to which is added an astronomical Vocabulary,' published in Bohn's 'Standard Library' in 1852, and in several subsequent editions. 3. 'The Comets: a Descriptive Treatise. With a Table of all the Calculated Orbits,' London, 1852; translated into German by J. H. Madler in 1854. 4. 'The Illustrated London Astronomy,' 1853. The great comet of 1556, of which he predicted the return in two pamphlets, first for the year 1848, then, perturbations being allowed for, about 1858, failed to verify either forecast. He, however, successfully traced the apparitions of Halley's comet back to 11 B.C., was a diligent student of Chinese cometary annals, and computed the orbits of forty-three comets, as well as of many asteroids and binary stars. Numerous communications from him were included in scientific collections, notably in the 'Monthly Notices' and the 'Astronomische Nachrichten,' and his letters to the 'Times' on astronomical occurrences appeared at intervals during forty years. The results of a comparison supervised by him of Burckhardt's and Hansen's Lunar Tables, 1847-65, formed an appendix to the 'Monthly Notices' for 1890, vol. 1.

[Monthly Notices Royal Astronomical Society, lvi. 200; Observatory, xix. 66, 89; Times, 24 Dec. 1895; Knowledge, xix. 63; Nature, liii. 201; Grant's History of Astronomy, p. 290; Clerke's Hist. of Astronomy during the Nineteenth Century; Wolf's Geschichte der Astronomie; André et Angot's L'Astronomie Pratique, i. 96; Addison's Roll of Glasgow Graduates, p. 267; Men of the Time, 1895; Royal Society's Catalogue of Scientific Papers.]

A. M. C.