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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BROOKS, William Robert, astronomer, born in Maidstone, England, 11 June, 1844. He came to this country in 1857, and settled with his parents in Darien, New York When he was only fourteen years of age he constructed a telescope; and at the age of eighteen delivered his first astronomical lectures. Subsequently he was employed as a mechanical draughtsman, and invented various improvements in astronomical, photographic, and other scientific instruments. In 1870 he settled in Phelps, New York, where, in 1874, he founded and became the director of the Red House observatory. In 1888 he removed to Geneva, New York, to take charge of Smith observatory. His work has consisted largely in the discovery of comets, and thirteen of these bodies have been credited to him since 1881, of which two were the first observed return of the notable long-period comets of 1812 and of 1815. He found two in 1885 and the first three that were discovered in 1886, making a record of five comets within a period, of nine months, of which four were in succession and two within four days. Three of these, bearing his name, were visible at the same time, which is unparalleled in the history of astronomy. Mr. Brooks is a fellow of the American association for the advancement of science, and a fellow of the Royal astronomical society of Great Britain, and has won a number of prizes by his discoveries. He has lectured frequently, and, besides papers on his specialty, has put01ished poems, of which '" Milton" and " The Pilgrim of Lavergne" have been widely copied.
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