Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 45-46


Alexander, Stephen

BornSchenectady, New York, USA, 1 September 1806

DiedPrinceton, New Jersey, USA, 25 June 1883

A frequent observer of solar eclipses, Stephen Alexander also published two major papers that developed out of his interest in Simon de Laplace’s nebular hypothesis: one on the development of nebulae and star clusters and the other on harmonies in the Solar System. His concern for harmonies led him to be called “the American Kepler,” and it was evident that the title was not entirely complimentary.

After graduating from Union College in 1824, Alexander taught at Yates Polytechnic, a vocational school in Chittenango, New York. His earliest documented astronomical observations date to 1825. In May 1830 his younger sister Harriet married Joseph Henry, their first cousin. Thereafter, Alexander’s life and career were bound up with those of Henry, who became America’s most important scientist. Alexander left Yates within a few months of his sister’s wedding to reside with the Henrys in Albany. When Hen ...

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