Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Bevis, John

  • Kevin J. Kilburn
Reference work entry

Alternate Name

 Bevans, John

BornWest Harnham near Salisbury, England, 31 October 1695 (or 10 November 1695)

DiedLondon, England, 6 November 1771

John Bevis is best known for his discovery in 1731 of the Crab Nebula, subsequently classified by  Charles Messier as M1, though Bevis also merits recognition for his important but stillborn atlas, Uranographia Britannica.

Bevis was born into a well-to-do family. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford, gaining his B.A. on 13 October 1715 and M.A. on 20 June 1718. It is said that  Isaac Newton’s Opticks was his favorite book during this period. Before settling in London in 1729 and becoming a successful medical practitioner, he traveled widely throughout France and Italy for several years gaining medical information and practical experience.

Astronomy was Bevis’s passion; he became friendly with  Edmond Halley, whom he assisted at Greenwich in observing the transit of Mercury on 31 October 1736. Bevis observed Mercury occulted by Venus at...

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Selected References

  1. Ashworth, William B., Jr. (1981). “John Bevis and his Uranographia (ca. 1750).” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 125, no. 1: 52–73. (This is by far the most comprehensive study of Bevis and his Uranographia.)Google Scholar
  2. Bevis, J. (1743). “Epistola Johannis Bevis … de Transitibus Mercurri sub Sole, Oct. 31. 1736. & Oct. 25. 1743.” Philosophical Transactions 42: 622–626. (Regarding transit-of-Mercury observations with Halley.)Google Scholar
  3. — (1759). “An Account of the Comet seen in May 1759.” Philosophical Transactions 51: 93–94. (Regarding observations of Halley’s comet.)Google Scholar
  4. Clerke, Agnes M. (1921–1922). “Bevis or Bevans, John.” In Dictionary of National Biography, edited by Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee. Vol. 2, pp. 451–452. London: Oxford University Press. (Biographical summary of Bevis and his scientific works, including a comprehensive list of his publications.)Google Scholar
  5. Gingerich, Owen (1987). Introduction to the facsimile edition of Atlas Celeste, by John Bevis. Alburgh, Norfolk: Archival Facsimiles. (This gives a concise biography of Bevis together with a description of his intended Uranographia Britannica. This modern facsimile is a compilation of the atlas in the British Library map collection, catalog number C.21.c.5, together with the proof plates. Augmented with the star catalog and tables found in the A.P.S. copy.)Google Scholar
  6. Kilburn, Kevin J., Michael Oates, and Anthony W. Cross. (1998). “The Ghost Book of Manchester.” Sky & Telescope 96, no. 5: 83–86. (Describes the discovery in 1997 of possibly the most complete Atlas Celeste. Also offers evidence that Bevis may have observed Uranus in 1738.)Google Scholar
  7. Kilburn, Kevin J., Jay M. Pasachoff, and Owen Gingerich (2003). “The Forgotten Star Atlas: John Bevis’s Uranographia Britannica.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 34: 125–144. (Updates Ashworth’s 1981 paper.)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Sinnott, Roger W. and Jean Meeus (1986). “John Bevis and a Rare Occultation.” Sky & Telescope 72, no. 3: 220–222. (Analyzes Bevis’s observation of the occultation of Mercury by Venus.)Google Scholar
  9. Wallis, Ruth (1982). “John Bevis, M. D., F.R.S., (1693–1771), Astronomer Loyal.” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 36: 211–225.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Yeoman, Thomas (11 April 1748). “Uranographia Britannica.” Northampton Mercury, p. 7, col. 2. (This is the first public proposal to publish the atlas.)Google Scholar
  11. Kilburn, Kevin J. “The Chatsworth Uranographia Britannica.” A&G, the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society. February 2012. vol 53. (Describes the Chatsworth atlas and lists currently identified Bevis atlases. The definitive list is maintained by Michael Oates on the website of Manchester Astronomical Society.)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK