Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 531-532


de Damoiseau, Marie-Charles-Théodore

  • Jacques LévyAffiliated with 

Alternate Name

Damoiseau, Marie-Charles-Théodore de

Born Jussan Mouthier, (Doubs), France, 9 April 1768

Died Issy near Paris, France, 6 August 1846

Marie-Charles-Théodore de Damoiseau is mostly known for his lunar tables and his tables of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter. He was the son of Louis Armand Désiré de Damoiseau, Chevalier, Seigneur de Colombier, an important military figure, and Jeanne Marie Marmillon de la Baronnie de Montfort. This was Damoiseau’s father’s second marriage, and he was one of the four children. Damoiseau signed as Damoiseau de Monfort (not Montfort), although on his publications, he signed as Baron de Damoiseau.

Clever in mathematics, Damoiseau began his career as an artillery officer in La Fère, but during the French Revolution he became an émigré(1792), joining the Condé army on the German border. In 1795, Damoiseau was in the service of the King of Sardinia in the Piedmont region of Italy. With the arrival of the French troops, he went to Portugal to join the marine artillery. Soon he was in charge of nautical ephemerides at Lisbon Observatory, and he began to publish them from 1798. Damoiseau was reinstated in the French army by general Junot who was in Lisbon with his troops in 1807. He was posted to the artillery in Bastia, in Antibes, and, by the end, in the Commission d’artillerie in Paris. When he retired in 1817, as a lieutenant-colonel, Damoiseau began a purely astronomical career.

For his work in astronomy, Damoiseau was granted the Prix des sciences in 1820 by the Académie des sciences. In 1823, he was a candidate for a vacant position as adjointat the Bureau des longitudes, but did not receive it. Damoiseau published his lunar tables in the following year (and another version in 1828), winning the Médaille Lalande, from the prize created by Joseph-Jérôme de Lalande a short time before his death. Soon after this, the bureau appointed Damoiseau to act as secretary-librarian for the Paris Observatory. Although no vacant post existed at the Bureau, King Louis XVIII intervened personally, appointing Damoiseau as membre adjointof the Bureau pour l’application spéciale du calcul numérique aux recherches qui peuvent intéresser l’astronomie, la géographie et la navigation. It seems likely due to Damoiseau’s father’s prominence.

Damoiseau became a member of the Académie des sciences in 1825. On the death of Jean Burckhardt in that year, Damoiseau took over as director of the École Militaire Observatory. From 1833, he could no longer observe due to his poor eyesight. For some years, the École Militaire wanted to use the observatory buildings for other purposes and did so in 1835. It was probably about this time that Damoiseau moved to Issy, where his widow remained until 1863. (They had no children.) When Alexis Bouvard died in 1843, Damoiseau, who had published important astronomical memoirs, replaced him as a full member of the Bureau des longitudes.

In 1836, Damoiseau published his Galilean satellite tables to replace those of Jean Delambre . Damoiseau’s tables were used for the Connaissance des tempsfrom 1841 to 1914. Apart from his works about the Moon and the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, Damoiseau had also studied on the trajectories of comets and their perturbations and, especially from 1820, the perihelion for the 1835 return of comet Halley (IP/Halley).

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