de La Caille, Nicolas-Louis
BornRumigny, (Ardennes), France, 15 May 1713
DiedParis, France, 21 March 1762
Nicolas de Lacaille (as he signed his name) was one of the greatest observers of the eighteenth century and a pioneer in mapping the southern sky. His father served the Duchess of Vandôme as chief huntsman, but he devoted his spare time to the study of natural science and mechanics. After his father died, the young Lacaille put himself under the patronage of the Duke of Bourbon, wishing to study theology to be able to take holy orders. After becoming deacon, however, he forsook the ecclesiastical career and turned all his thoughts to science.
Self-taught in astronomy and mathematics, Lacaille moved to Paris in 1735. There he gained the friendship and the esteem of Jacques Cassini, director of the Paris Observatory. In 1736 Lacaille began to work at the observatory, where he was officially engaged 3 years...
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