Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 211-213


Bevis, John

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 Gre ...

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