Papers of Nevil Maskelyne, 1706 - 1843
Scope and Contents
- 1706 - 1843
Conditions Governing Access
Biographical / Historical
Maskelyne first developed an interest in astronomy and optics after viewing the solar eclipse of July 1748. During the 1750s, he made the acquaintance of James Bradley, the Astronomer Royal, and with his support he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1758. In 1761 he was sent by the Society to St Helena, where he failed in an attempt to observe the transit of Venus. He was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1765, in succession to Bradley, and oversaw the publication of the first 'Nautical Almanac' in 1766. As Astronomer Royal, Maskelyne was closely involved in the efforts to establish longitude by means of lunar distances and the use of marine chronometers, and during the 1760s and 1770s he supervised the testing of John Harrison's chronometers. In 1774 he planned and superintended the Schiehallion Experiment, which attempted to determine the earth's density by examining the gravitational attraction of a mountain in Perthshire. During his lifetime, he made over 90,000 observations, which were published in instalments between 1776 and 1811. He died at Greenwich Observatory on 9 February 1811.
52 archive box(es) (52 boxes) : paper
1 bundle(s) (1 bundle)
Language of Materials
Other Finding Aids
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