Edward Singleton Holden

Edward Singleton Holden (November 5, 1846 – March 16, 1914) was an American astronomer.

Early years

He was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1846 to Jeremiah and Sarah Holden. From 1862-66, he attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he obtained a B.S. degree. He later trained at West Point in the class of 1870.


In 1873 he became professor of mathematics at the US Naval Observatory, where he made a favorable impression on Simon Newcomb. He was director of Washburn Observatory at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1881 to 1885. He was elected a member of the American National Academy of Sciences in 1885.

On August 28, 1877, a few days after Asaph Hall discovered the moons of Mars Deimos and Phobos, he claimed to have found a third satellite of Mars. Further analysis showed large mistakes in his observations.[1]

He was president of the University of California from 1885 until 1888, and the first director of the Lick Observatory from 1888 until the end of 1897. He resigned as a result of internal dissent over his management among his subordinates.

While at the Lick Observatory, he was the founder of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and its first President.

In 1901 he became the librarian of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he remained until his death.

His cousin, George Phillips Bond, was director of Harvard College Observatory.

He discovered a total of 22 NGC objects during his work at Washburn Observatory.

He wrote many books on popular science (and on other subjects, such as flags and heraldry) , including science books intended for children. For example the book Real Things In Nature. A Reading Book of Science for American Boys and Girls published in 1916.

Death and legacy

He died in 1914.

The crater Holden on the Moon and the crater Holden on Mars are both named in his honor.


1. ^ The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery. Chapter 5: 1877. University of Arizona Press

External links

* Works by Edward Singleton Holden at Project Gutenberg
* University of California Presidents' biographies
* Family Tree of Edward Singleton
* ASP: Centennial History of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific at www.astrosociety.org Bracher, Katherine: The Centennial History of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (Mercury Magazine, Sept/Oct 1989)
* Osterbrock, Donald E., The Rise and Fall of Edward S. Holden - Part One, JOURN. HISTORY OF ASTRONOMY V.15:2, NO.43, P. 81, 1984
o Part Two - V.15, NO. 3/OCT, P.151, 1984


* JRASC 8 (1914) 142
* MNRAS 75 (1914) 264
* Obs 37 (1914) 182 (one paragraph)
* PASP 26 (1914) 77–87

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