Date: 03 Sep 2014

Johnson, Manuel John

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BornMacao, China, 23 May 1805

DiedOxford, England, 28 February 1859

Star cataloger Manuel Johnson founded an observatory at Saint Helena, prepared one of the earliest accurate catalogs of Southern Hemisphere stars, and served as director of the Radcliffe Observatory. The only son of John William Johnson, he attended Addiscombe College, the British East India Company’s military academy. Commissioned as a lieutenant at age 16, he was assigned to an artillery unit stationed on the island of Saint Helena. Johnson developed an interest in astronomy, which was encouraged by the governor of the island who wished to establish an observatory there. Johnson made two trips to Cape Town, South Africa, in 1825 and 1828, to confer with Fearon Fallows, His Majesty’s Astronomer at the Cape, on observatory construction and equipment.

Johnson began observation at Saint Helena late in 1829. Over the next 4 years he compiled a catalog of 606 Southern Hemisphere stars, which was printed at the company’s expen ...