Bond, William Cranch

Bond, William Cranch, 1789–1859, American astronomer, b. Portland, Maine. He early aided his father in the trades of silversmith and clockmaker in Boston. He soon became an expert in the making of chronometers and by 1812 was fashioning most of the superior ones used by ships sailing out of Boston. He developed a passion for astronomy, and, turning part of his home into an amateur observatory, he devoted all his free time to it. In 1815 he was sent by Harvard College to Europe to visit existing observatories and gather data preliminary to the building of an observatory at Harvard. In 1839 the observatory was founded; Bond supervised its construction and became its first director. In 1847 a 15-in. (37.5 cm) telescope, then matched in size by only one other in the world, was installed. With it, Bond made elaborate studies of sunspots, of the Orion nebula, and of the planet Saturn, publishing his results chiefly in the Annals of the Harvard College Observatory. Together with his son he developed the chronograph for automatically recording the position of stars, and he was a pioneer in the use of the chronometer and the telegraph for determining longitude. He and his son George Phillips Bond made the first practical use in America of Daguerre's photographic process applied to astronomy.

See E. S. Holden, Memorials of William Cranch Bond and of His Son George Phillips Bond (1897).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Astronomy: Biographies