Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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PROCTOR, Richard Anthony, astronomer, born in Chelsea, England, 23 March, 1837. He entered King's college, London, in 1855, and a year later went to Cambridge, where in 1860 he received his bachelor's degree. An early fondness for mathematics led to his making a specialty of astronomy, on which subject he has become the most fertile popular writer of his time. His original work in-eludes numerous researches on the stellar system, the law of distribution of stars, their motions, the relations between the stars and the nebulae, and the general constitution of the heavens. In 1869 he advanced, on theoretical grounds, a theory of the solar corona that has since been generally accepted, and also that of the inner complex solar atmosphere that was afterward advanced by Professor Charles A. Young. He was active in the transit-of-Venus expeditions of 1874 and 1882, and became involved in a dispute with the astronomer royal of England as to the best methods of observation. In 1873-'4 and in 1875-'6 he lectured in the principal cities of the United States, and in 1879 he left England for Australasia, and lectured in all of the larger towns of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. He visited the United States again in 1884, and, after lecturing in the leading cities, settled in St. Joseph, Missouri In 1866 he was elected a fellow of the Royal astronomical society, and in 1873 he was appointed an honorary fellow of King's college, London. He was honorary secretary of the Royal astronomical society and editor of its proceedings in 1872-'3. Mr. Proctor established " Knowledge" as a weekly journal in 1881, but changed it to a monthly in 1885. His literary work began in 1863, when he published in the "Cornhill Magazine" an article on "Double Stars." Among his numerous books are "Saturn and its System " (London, 1865); "Gnomonic Star Atlas" (1866); "Half-Hours with the Telescope" (1868)" ' Half-Hours with Stars" (1869) . "Other Worlds than Ours" (1870)" "Light Science for Leisure Hours" (3 series, 1871, 1873, and 1883) . "Elementary Astronomy" (1871)" "Border Land of Science " i1873)" "Transits of Venus --Past, Present, and Future" and "The Expanse of Heaven" (1874) ; and "Myths and Marvels of Astronomy" (1877). He has edited "The Knowledge Library," consisting of a series of works made up of papers that have appeared in his journal, among which are several of his own, notably" How to Play Whist " and "Home Whist" (1885). Since he became an American citizen he has published " Chance and Luck" (New York, 1887)" " First Steps in Geometry"' (1887) ; "Easy Lessons in Differential Calculus" (1887)" and " Old and New Astronomy," which is now (1888) issuing in parts.
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