Warren De La Rue

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Warren de la Rue

Warren De La Rue (born January 18, 1815 in St. Peter Port on Guernsey , † April 19, 1889 in London ) was a British chemist , inventor and amateur astronomer . He became known through the first sky photographs .

life and work

Warren De La Rue was born as the eldest son of a total of 10 siblings (of which only six reached adulthood) in 1815 on the Channel Island of Guernsey . In 1818 his parents moved back to the mainland and settled in Shoreditch, near London . His father, Thomas, had more business prospects in the big city and his first business was the production of 'Legorn' straw hats. In 1830 he founded a company for the production of playing cards with Samuel Cornish and William Rock and received the royal patent for it. The following year they printed the first set of cards. Their business premises were at 110 Bunhill Row, London, where they operated a wholesale stationery business. Warren was sent to the Collège Sainte-Barbe in Paris for his upbringing , as his father preferred French to English.

Warren showed an early interest in anything mechanical or electrical. He also had a special talent for drawing and began to draw very carefully everything that he saw and wanted to describe. At the age of 21 he wrote his first scientific article on "Voltaic Electricity and on the effects of a battery charged with Sulphate of Copper", which was published in December 1836 in the "Philosophical Magazine".

The 1841 census tells us that Warren married Georgiana Bowles, also born in Guernsey, on February 17, 1840, and that he was employed in his father's business.

The first written record of de La Rue's interest in astronomy is a brief note in the December 1850 issue of the Royal Astronomical Society : “ A very fine drawing of Saturn by Mr. De La Rue, which he made in his thirteen-inch (33 cm) will be exhibited in the January meeting. It fully confirms the discovery of Mr. Bond and the drawing of Mr. Dawes. ” His great passion for astronomy made him friends with the leading men of the day, especially James Nasmyth and William Lassell , and more importantly, he had the astronomical elite of the So impressed by the Royal Astronomical Society that they elected him a Fellow on March 14, 1850.

At the World's Fair in 1851 , Warren exhibited his machine for making envelopes, which he had designed five years earlier. Fate would have it that the photographs of the moon by William Cranch Bond , director of the Harvard College Observatory, and the daguerreotypist John Adams Whipple were to be seen very near him. That was the turning point in de la Rue's life. From now on he was not only interested in astronomy, but especially in astrophotography.

The 1851 census shows that Warren de La Rue and his family moved to No. 7 St. Mary's Street, Canonbury, Islington. His family consists of a daughter and two sons, who were to be joined by two more. We learn from his job that he worked in the fields of chemistry, mechanics, card making, engineering and wholesale of stationery and employed a total of 410 people. In 1857 Warren de La Rue moved to Cranford in Middlesex (now near the runway of Heathrow Airport), where he built an observatory for his telescope.

When James Nasmyth aroused his interest in astronomy, he constructed a 13-inch reflecting telescope in 1850 , which was first built in Canonbury and later in Cranford . With this telescope he made a number of excellent drawings of celestial bodies.

As a result, he carried out pioneering work in establishing photography in astronomical research and his images were unsurpassed for a long time - only Lewis Morris Rutherfurd was able to further improve the quality after 1865.

After 1854 he turned to the physics of the sun and constructed a photo heliograph in order to take daily photographs of the sun from 1858 onwards . He carried out this work himself until 1872, and between 1873 and 1882 it was continued by the Royal Greenwich Observatory . On July 18, 1860, he photographed a solar eclipse in Spain, whereby the images could for the first time prove the solar origin of the red flames that are visible around the moon's shadow during a solar eclipse.

In 1873 he gave up active astronomy and handed his instruments over to the University Observatory at Oxford , to which he also handed over a 13-inch refractor in 1887 .

Between 1856 and 1862 he published several chemical works together with Hugo Müller and examined electrical discharges in gases between 1868 and 1883 .

He was twice President of the Chemical Society of London and from 1864 to 1866 also President of the Royal Astronomical Society .

Warren was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society for his photographic recordings of the solar eclipse in 1862 and the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1864 for his achievements in astronomical photography.

In 1850 he was elected as a member (" Fellow ") in the Royal Society. In 1864 he was accepted as a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg . On December 27, 1880 he became a corresponding member of the Académie des Sciences .

The moon crater De La Rue is named after him.



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Entry on Rue; Warren de la (1815-1889) in the Archives of the Royal Society , London
  2. ^ Foreign members of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1724. Warren De La Rue. Russian Academy of Sciences, accessed August 26, 2015 .
  3. ^ List of members since 1666: Letter D. Académie des sciences, accessed on November 5, 2019 (French).