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Sir Norman Lockyer

Updated on October 13, 2009

Sir (Joseph) Norman Lockyer (1836-1920), British astronomer, born at Rugby, and educated privately and on the Continent. In 1857 he became a civil servant in the War Office but his reputation as an outstanding amateur astronomer led to his transfer to the Science and Art Department and to his appointment in 1881 as a professor in the Royal College of Science, and in 1885 as director of the Solar Physics Observatory at South Kensington, London, an appointment he held till the removal of the observatory to Cambridge in 1913. He was a pioneer in solar and stellar spectroscopy, discovering helium in the Sun's spectrum and, simultaneously with Janssen, the possibility of observing solar prominences without an eclipse. He fought hard for the greater public recognition of science and in 1869 founded the magazine Nature, which he continued to edit for fifty years. The same year he was made an FRS. On retirement from South Kensington in 1913, Lockyer founded the Hill Observatory at Sidmouth in Devon, the name of which was changed after his death to the Norman Lockyer Observatory.

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