| Share

David Rittenhouse

Rittenhouse, David, 1732–96, American astronomer and instrument maker, b. near Germantown, Pa., self-educated. A clockmaker by trade, he developed great skill in the making of mathematical instruments. He was called upon to determine, with his own instruments, the boundary lines of several states and also part of the boundary known as the Mason-Dixon Line. In 1769 he was asked by the American Philosophical Society to observe the transit of Venus. His contributions include the use of measured grating intervals and spider threads on the focus of the telescope. Active in public affairs, he was a member of the convention that framed Pennsylvania's constitution and was state treasurer (1777–89) and director of the U.S. mint (1792–95). After the Revolution he was an Anti-Federalist. He succeeded Benjamin Franklin as president (1791–96) of the American Philosophical Society; most of his writings appeared in its Transactions.

See biography by B. Hindle (1964).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on David Rittenhouse from Infoplease:

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Astronomy: Biographies

Premium Partner Content
HighBeam Research
Documents Images and Maps Reference
(from Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, Newswires, Transcripts and Books)

Research our extensive archive of more than 80 million articles from 6,500 publications.

Additional search results provided by HighBeam Research, LLC. © Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring