The New International Encyclopædia/Horrocks, Jeremiah

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HORROCKS, Jeremiah (c.1617–41). An English astronomer, born at Toxteth Park, near Liverpool. He entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1632, and remained there until 1635, devoting himself principally to the study of astronomy. In the latter year he returned to Toxteth and commenced, under extremely unfavorable circumstances, his original observations. In 1639 he was appointed to the curacy of Hoole, Lancashire, and in that village, on November 24, 1639 (O.S.), he made his famous observation of the transit of Venus—the first observation of this phenomenon ever made. Hearne, in his memoranda, tells us how Horrocks was called away, during his observation of the transit, “to his devotions and duty at church,” the day being Sunday. Newton, in the Principia, bears honorable testimony to the value of Horrocks's astronomical work, especially commending his lunar theory as the most ingenious yet brought forward; adding, “and if I mistake not, the most accurate of all.” Horrocks is frequently mentioned by the scientific men of the seventeenth century; the observation of the transit is by no means regarded as the most important of his astronomical achievements. He died suddenly at the age of about twenty-three, on January 3, 1641. Hevelius printed Horrocks's Latin treatise entitled Venus in Sole visa in 1662. In 1672 Horrocks's fragmentary works were published under the auspices of the Royal Society, being edited by Wallis, with the title Jeremiæ Horroccii Opera Posthuma, etc. Other works of Horrocks's perished in manuscript.