Gould, Benjamin Apthorp (1824–1896)
Benjamin Gould was an American astronomer who founded the Astronomical Journal and later
established Argentina's National Observatory. Gould graduated from Harvard
in 1844, then, having studied for a year at Berlin, he obtained his Ph.D.
from Göttingen University in 1848 under Karl Gauss.
On his return to the United States he served as head of the longitude department
of the US Coast Survey from 1852 to 1867, pioneering the use of the telegraph
in measuring longitude. At the same time he founded the Astronomical
Journal (1849) and edited it until 1861 when its publication was halted
by the Civil War. He was also connected with the Dudley Observatory, Albany,
from 1855 and served as its director briefly in 1858 before being forced
to get out of town the following year. After his traumatic expulsion from
Albany he handled his father's business for some time. He set up a private
observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, financed by his wife, and in 1862
produced a star catalogue that brought together measurements made at various
observatories. He left for Argentina in 1870. The 15 years spent in Cordoba
were by far the most productive of Gould's career. He established the Argentine
National Observatory and began the first major survey of the southern skies.
The Observatory's first survey of naked-eye stars was published as the Uranometria
Argentina (1879). This was followed by the fuller recording, published
in 1884, of 73,160 stars from 23°S to 80°S and in 1886 by the publication
of the Catŕlago General (General Catalogue) containing the more accurate
recording of 32,448 stellar coordinates. This important work was continued
by Gould's successor, Juan Thomé. An extended band of young stars, cloud,
and dust that forms a spur off one of the spiral arms of our Galaxy, revealed
by the southern surveys, was subsequently named the Gould
Belt. In 1885 Gould returned to Massachusetts where he restarted the
Astronomical Journal and worked on the 1,000 photographic plates of star
clusters he brought back with him from Cordoba.