Charles Piazzi Smyth

1819 (Naples, Italy) – 1900 (Ripon, England)

Smyth’s reputation as an innovative astronomer and meteorologist has tended to be obscured by his eccentric obsession with the Pyramids and with the British as the lost tribe of Israel. Piazzi (whose name he took) was his godfather and a significant early influence. As a young man he worked alongside Herschel in South Africa; Herschel’s opposition to metric measurement contributed to Smyth’s farfetched belief in the inch’s Egyptian ancestry. The famous engineer Stephenson lent him his yacht, accompanying him on an important trip to Tenerife. Draper and Abbe were both correspondents.

Charles Piazzi Smyth knew…