Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 1221-1224


Kirkwood, Daniel

  • Frank K. EdmondsonAffiliated withDepartment of Earth Science, University of Northern IowaIndiana University 

BornHarford County, Maryland, USA, 27 September 1814

DiedRiverside, California, USA, 11 June 1895

Daniel Kirkwood’s most important contribution to astronomy was his discovery, published in 1866, of gaps in the distribution of orbits of the asteroids. His interest in the origin and evolution of the solar system was clearly evident in his books and papers on asteroids, comets, and meteors that were important contributions on these topics. Born in Bladensburg, Maryland, to John Kirkwood, a farmer, and his wife Agnes (née Hope) Kirkwood, Daniel was the 12th of 13 children. His early education was limited to a nearby country school. Kirkwood began his career as a teacher at the age of 19 when he took a teaching position at a country school in Hopewell, Pennsylvania. He enrolled at the York County Academy, York, Pennsylvania, in 1834, majoring in mathematics. Following his graduation in 1838, Kirkwood was appointed first assistant and instructor in mathematics at the York County Academy. In 18 ...

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