Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 525-527


Dawes, William Rutter

BornLondon, England, 19 March 1799

DiedHaddenham, Buckinghamshire, England, 15 February 1868

William Rutter Dawes is known for the empirical formula he devised to determine the resolving power of a telescope (Dawes Limit), his extraordinarily keen vision that earned him the sobriquet “eagle-eyed,” and the care and skill with which he conducted his observations of celestial objects. These qualities distinguished him as one of the finest observational astronomers of his day.

Dawes was born at Christ’s Hospital, where his father William Daweswas mathematical master. William Dawes had been Government Astronomer on the first expedition to Botany Bay in 1787, and had married Judith Rutter in 1792 after his return to England. William Rutter lost his mother at an early age, and following his father’s third official posting to Sierra Leone as that colony’s Governor in 1801, was sent to live with his grandfather in Portsmouth. In 1807, William Rutter’s care became the responsibility of Reverend Tho ...

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