Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterNicolas Louis de Lacaille was an astronomer who was born on March 15, 1713 and died on March 21, 1762. He is best known for producing a catalog of close to 10,000 stars and fourteen new constellations in the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky. This catalog is named Coelum Australe Stelliferum. Unfortunately, it was not published until 1763, more than one year after his death. He also calculated a table of eclipses for 1800 years.
Lacaille began his studies in theology at the College de Lisieux. After takign his deacon’s orders, he found himself fascinated by science. In 1739 he gained employment remeasuring the French arc of the meridian. The survey took two years to complete and corrected many anomalies in the 1718 survey completed by Jacques Cassini. Soon after, and directly related to, this survey he was appointed mathematical professor at Mazarin. He began looking for funding for a trip to the Cape of Good Hope in 1750, to begin a survey of the southern night sky. As a result of this survey, Lacaille determined the parallax of the Sun and Moon, the first measurement of a South African arc of the meridian, and the observation of 10,000 southern stars.
In 1754, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Several extraterrestrial objects have been named in his honor, including: the lunar crater La Caille and asteroid 9135 Lacaille (also known as 7609 P-L and 1994 EK6).
We’ve done many episodes of Astronomy Cast about stars. Listen here, Episode 12: Where Do Baby Stars Come From?