Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 287-288


Bouvard, Alexis

BornContamines, (Haute-Savoie), France, 27 June 1767

DiedParis, France, 7 June 1843

Alexis Bouvard was a French astronomer who first suggested that perturbations to Uranus’ motion might be caused by an unseen planet. Bouvard was a penniless rural youth who, in 1785, made his way to Paris where he took mathematics lessons to be able to make a living as a calculator. He attended free courses at the Collège de France. His passion for astronomy was ignited by visits to the Paris Observatory, where he was soon admitted as a student-astronomer in 1793. Within 2 years, he was promoted to astronomer.

Bouvard met Pierre de Laplace in 1794 just as the Mécanique céleste was being composed. Laplace gave him the task of doing the detailed calculations for the work. With Laplace as patron, Bouvard gained a position at the Bureau des longitudes in 1794. He spent the rest of his career there, providing tables for Connaissance des temps and the Annuaire of the bureau. At the observatory, he was an indefat ...

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