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Adrien Auzout (January 28, 1622May 23, 1691) was a French astronomer.

He was born in Rouen, France, the son of a clerk in the court of Rouen. His educational background is unknown. In 1664–1665 he made observations of comets, and argued in favor of their following elliptical or parabolic orbits. (In this he was opposed by his rival Johannes Hevelius.) Adrien was briefly a member of the Académie Royale des Sciences from 1666 to 1668, and a founding member of the French Royal Obseratory. (He may have left the academy due to a dispute.) He then left for Italy and spent the next 20 years in that region, finally dying in Rome in 1691. Little is known about his activities during this last period.

Auzout made contributions in telescope observations, including perfecting the use of the micrometer. In 1647 he performed an experiment that demonstrated the role of air pressure in function of the mercury barometer. He is noted for briefly considering the construction of a huge telescope 1,000 feet in length that he would use to observe animals on the Moon. In 1667–68, Arien and Jean Picard attached a telescopic sight to a 38-inch quadrant, and used it to accurately determine positions on the Earth.

The Auzout crater on the Moon is named for him.


* Galileo Project entry

Further reading

* McKeon, Robert (1970-80). "Auzout, Adrien". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 341-342. ISBN 0684101149.


Astronomy Encyclopedia

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