Alexandre Guy Pingré (1711-1796)

Interested in astronomy from an age of 14, Pingré lived in Rouen, and went to Paris in 1753. As his eyesight was poor and his body was weak, he was limited in his observing abilities, but as an outstanding mathematician, he was the right man to collaborate with an observer like Charles Messier, in the reduction of his comet observations and other work.

From 1754 to 1757, Pingré published a nautical almanac, État du Ciel, containing Moon tables based on the work of le Monnier.

He undertook a number of larger voyages: In 1761, he travelled to the island of Rodrigues near Madagaskar to observe the transit of Venus, and in 1769 he took part in the Atlantic voyage with the Chevalier de Fleurieu on the Isis, in order to study the behaviour of marine chronometers. Also, in 1767, he was on the fregatte L'Aurore together with Messier for a voyage in the Baltic, also already in order to test marine chronometers - on that occasion, Messier had done all the observations and Pingré the data reduction. In 1771, Pingré sailed again on the Flore with Borda and de la Crenne for a navigational survey.

In 1783 and 1784, Pingré published a comprehensive compilation of the knowledge of comets at that time, Cometographie.

He suffered significantly from the French Revolution, losing all his resources. Nevertheless, he continued to work until his death in 1796.


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