Date: 03 Sep 2014

Houzeau de Lehaie, Jean-Charles-Hippolyte-Joseph

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BornMons, (Belgium), 7 October 1820

DiedSchaerbeek near Brussels, Belgium, 12 July 1888

The Belgian astronomer Jean-Charles Houzeau served astronomy in a number of ways, including as director of the Royal Belgian Observatory, but is best known for his extensive bibliography of astronomy.

Born to a rich, old family of nobility, Houzeau’s ancestors added the sobriquet “de Lehaie” to distinguish their branch of the family. As a convinced democrat, Houzeau never used his full, aristocratic name; he called himself simply Houzeau. He was educated at home in his father’s extensive library, and showed a brilliant intelligence and a spirit of inquiry, but also a love of freedom and independence. His family routinely spent winters in Paris, France, where the young Houzeau spent most of his time in the Bibliothèque Nationale recording data on all subjects of interest to him. He usually lived at the Sorbonne with his uncle, the vice rector of the University of Paris.

After a successful period at the C ...