Nicolas Camille Flammarion (February 26, 1842 - June 3, 1925)

Nicolas Camille Flammarion was born in 1842 at Montigny-le-Roi in the department of Haute Marne, France. He first studied theology, but early got interested in astronomy. At age 16, in 1858, he wrote a 500-page manuscript, Cosmologie Universelle, and became an assistent of LeVerrier (the man whose calculations had led to the discovery of Neptune) at Paris Observatory. From 1862 to 1867, he temporarily worked at the Bureau of Longitudes, then returning to the Observatory where he got involved in the program of double star observing. This project resulted in publishing a catalog of 10,000 double stars in 1878.

Besides, Flammarion observed the Moon and planet Mars. In 1873 and 1885, he brought up the hypothesis that Mars' color might be attributed to vegetation. He published several popular books (L'astronomie Populaire in 1879, of which over 100,000 copies were sold and an English translation by J.E. Gore appeared in 1894, as well as a book on Mars, La Planète Mars, supporting the existence of "canals", built by an advanced civilisation, Vol. 1 in 1892 and Vol. 2 in 1909), and encouraged amateur astronomy. In 1877, Flammarion founded the Astronomical Society of France. In 1882, he was donated a private observatory and estate by a M. Meret who admired his work.

In 1922, he was made a Commander of the Legion of Honor for his astronomical life-work.

Camille Flammarion passed away on June 3, 1925 in Juvisy-sur-Orge (Essonne, France).

Flammarion was honored by the naming of a Moon Crater (3.4S, 3.7W, 74.0 km diameter, in 1935) and a Mars Crater (25.4N, 311.8W, 173.0 km, in 1973). Asteroid (1021) Flammario has been discovered by Max Wolf on March 11, 1924 and provisionally known as 1924 RG; also as A910 CE and 1977 UM from indepnedent findings.

In 1877, Camille Flammarion had found and acquired Messier's personal copy and notes of the Messier Catalog from an old book store. He used this as reference for various works including a revised version of the catalog. Evaluating Messier's handwritten notes, he tentatively identified M102 with NGC 5866 before 1917, and in 1921, he added M104 to the Messier Catalog, which he identified with William Herschel's H I.43 or NGC 4594. This was the first of a number of additions to Messier's catalog.



[SEDS] | [MAA] | [Home] | [History Home] | [Biographies]

Hartmut Frommert
Christine Kronberg