Date: 03 Sep 2014

Davis, Charles Henry

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BornBoston, Massachusetts, USA, 16 January 1807

DiedWashington, District of Columbia, USA, 18 February 1877

Davis, Charles. Courtesy of United States Naval Observatory

In producing the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac, Charles Davis successfully argued that basic research on planetary motions was a necessity.

Davis was educated at Boston Latin School, and graduated from Harvard University in 1825. He had left college in 1823, however, to enter the United States Navy, and was made lieutenant in 1827. After about 17 years of sea duty, he was assigned to the United States Coast Survey in April 1842, and undertook hydrographic work. Davis is best known as the first superintendent of the American Nautical Almanac Office, 1849–1855. Although his role as the founder of the office has been exaggerated at the expense of Matthew Maury, Davis certainly played a key role as the first superintendent, and again from 1859 to 1861.

Davis was also the third superintendent of the Naval Observatory (18 ...