Donati, Giovan Battista
BornPisa, (Italy), 16 December 1826
DiedFlorence, Italy, 20 September 1873
Giovan Donati was an observational astronomer and an early contributor to stellar spectroscopy. Pictures of the comet that he discovered are still widely reproduced in astronomy textbooks.
Donati was the son of Dr. P. Donati of Pisa. After preliminary studies at the University of Pisa under M. Mossotti, Giovan devoted himself to mathematics and original analytical researches. In 1852 he joined professor Giovanni Amiciat the Observatory of the Museum of Natural History, then known as La Specola. Two years later, Donati was made an aide-astronome, and following his discovery of the magnificent naked-eye comet C/1858 L1 that bears his name, astronome-adjoint. (He first saw the comet as a telescopic object on 2 June 1858.)
Donati succeeded Amici as director in 1864, the year he was elected an associate of the Royal Astronomical Society. During the period 1864–1872, Donati made strenuous efforts to set up a new...