Metcalf, Joel Hastings
BornMeadville, Pennsylvania, USA, 4 January 1866
DiedPortland, Maine, USA, 23 February 1925
Joel Metcalf enjoyed three simultaneous and challenging careers: a pastoral career of considerable intensity; a career as a very successful amateur astronomer with the discoveries of 41 asteroids, 5 comets, and at least 10 variable stars to his credit; and a third career as an outstanding optical designer and craftsman, with four important instruments to his credit.
Metcalf was the son of Lewis Herbert and Anna (née Hicks) Metcalf. Lewis, a Civil War veteran, lost a leg at the first battle of Bull Run and was held at Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia. After marrying and settling in Meadville, Lewis served as a newspaper editor and as county treasurer.
At about age 13, Joel Metcalf read Richard Proctor’s book, Other Worlds Than Ours, which triggered his lifelong interest in astronomy, an interest that was further stimulated by the close conjunctions of Jupiter and Mars in 1879 and 1881. Metcalf...