Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 77-78


Anderson, Thomas David

Born Edinburgh, Scotland, 6 February 1853

Died Edrom, (Borders), Scotland, 31 March 1932

Although he had been trained for the ministry (M.A. University of Edinburgh), Thomas Anderson’s accidental discovery of Nova Aurigae at fifth magnitude on 1 February 1892 (several months past its maximum brightness when it had not been observed by any other astronomer) prompted Anderson to devote the remainder of his life to the study of the night sky with the intention of discovering other new stars. Armed with only a modest telescope and the Bonner Durchmusterung [BD], but possessing unsurpassed diligence, Anderson is credited with the discovery of 50 variable stars, but he discovered only one additional nova (Nova Persei, 1901). In the process, Anderson had updated his copy of the BD to include at least 70,000 additional stars that were fainter than the atlas’s limiting magnitude. In recognition of his achievement, Anderson was the recipient of the Gunning Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Gold Medal of the Société Astronomique de France, and the Jackson-Gwilt Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. Anderson also received an honorary D.Sc. from the University of Edinburgh. Surprisingly, no obituary was ever published.

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