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John Couch Adams (1819-1892), Artist Unknown

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Oil on canvas, English School, 19th century. John Couch Adams was born in 1819 on a farm in Laneast, near Launceston. From an early age he was fascinated by astronomy and by the age of 14 he was drawing his own star maps. He was also a brilliant mathematician and went on to study at Cambridge University. His interest in maths and astronomy lead him to work on a problem that had baffled astronomers for decades. After the discovery of Uranus in 1781, astronomers noticed that the planet was being pulled slightly out of its normal orbit and was not moving like the rest of the planets in the solar system. Working for 2 years on the problem, John Couch Adams devised a mathematical model to predict that it was the gravity from another planet beyond Uranus that was affecting the planet's orbit. His model also predicted this planet's size and mass. At the same time French astronomer, Urbain Le Verrier, was making similar calculations. All that was needed now was for each mathematician to find an astronomer with a telescope powerful enough to find this new planet, based on their calculations. For Adams, this proved difficult but Le Verrier was able enlist the help of Johann Galle at the Berlin Observatory who, using Le Verrier's calculations, was able to observe the planet in the sky for the first time in 1846. This new planet, later named Neptune, was the first to be discovered using mathematics. Although Neptune was discovered using Le Verrier's work, it was widely recognised by the astronomy community that the calculations carried out by Adams were also worthy of accolade. Both Adams and Le Verrier were awarded the Copely Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society in 1848 for the co-discovery of the planet Neptune.

Copyright © RIC, photographer Mike Searle

Media ID 19013150

Date: 24th May 2019

Copyright Status: Copyrighted Work

Author: MIke Searle

: TRURI : 1948.35

Image Size: 3340 x 4216 Pixels

Filesize is 5.04MB

Version 2 is 5.14MB

Associated Categories: Fine Art

Keywords: art, artwork, astronomer, black, brown, celestial, gentleman, man, mathematics, painting, portrait, scientist, shirt, suit, white