The Bruce Medalists: David Gill <script language="JavaScript"> if (top == self) self.location.href = "index.html"; </script> <header1><a href="../Intro.html" target="_parent" style="color: #8c23c0;">The Bruce Medalists</a></header1> <p>&nbsp; </p> <table> <tr> <td width = "33%">&nbsp;</td> <td width = "34%" align="center"><a href="gill.jpg"><img src="gillSml.jpg" alt="portrait" height="107" width="91" border="2"></a></td> <td width = "33%"valign="middle"><small>Photo 1896, courtesy Mary Lea Shane Archives, Lick Observatory</small></td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan=3 align=center><header2>David Gill</header2></td> </tr> <tr> <td width = "33%"><b>12 June 1843</b></td> <td align="center" width="34%"><b>1900 Bruce Medalist</b></td> <td align="right"><b>24 January 1914</b></td> </tr> </table> <p>David Gill, a Scotsman, trained as a watchmaker and worked in that profession. Timekeeping led to astronomy, and he designed, equipped, and operated a private observatory at Dun Echt near Aberdeen for James Lindsay, the Earl of Crawford. In 1877 <b><a href="">Gill and his wife travelled to Ascencion Island</a></b> to measure the solar parallax by observing Mars. After he proved the worth of the heliometer, a telescope with a divided objective, for measuring the distance to the sun, he was appointed Her Majesty's Astronomer at the <b><a href="">Cape of Good Hope</a></b>, a position he held from 1879 to 1906. He greatly improved the observatory, designing and securing new instruments of unprecedented precision. He redetermined the distance to the sun to such precision that his value was used for almanacs until 1968. He photographed the southern sky and helped initiate the international <b><cite><a href="">Carte du Ciel</a></cite></b> project to chart the entire sky. Gill and <b><a href="../Kapteyn/index.html">Jacobus C. Kapteyn</a></b>, who measured Gill's photographs in the Netherlands, initiated the separation of observation from reduction. Gill also made <b><a href="">geodetic surveys of South Africa</a></b>. In fact he carried out all of the observations to measure the distances to stars in terms of the standard meter.</p> <p><header3>Presentation of Bruce medal</header3><br> Pardee, George C., <a href=""><i>PASP</i> <b>12</b>, 49-55 (1900)</a>. </p> <p><header3>Other awards</header3><br> Government of Germany, <a href="">Order Pour le Merite for Arts and Sciences</a>, 1910.<br> National Academy of Sciences, <a href="">James Craig Watson Medal</a>, 1899.<br> Royal Astronomical Society, <a href="">Gold medal</a>, 1882, 1908, presented by H.F. Newall, <a href=""><i>MNRAS</i> <b>68</b>, 317-30 (1908)</a>.<br> Royal Society, <a href="">Royal Medal</a>, 1903.<br> </p> <p><header3>Some offices held</header3><br> <a href="">Royal Astronomical Society</a>, President, 1909-11.<br> </p> <p><header3>Biographical materials</header3><br> <a href="">Astronomical Society of Southern Africa</a><br> Bitterman, Jay, <a href="">Lake County Astronomical Society</a><br> Forbes, George, <i><a href="">David Gill: Man and Astronomer</a></i> (John Murray, London, 1916).<br> Reid, John S., &#8220;Sir David Gill &#8211; Scotland&#8217;s most notable astronomer?&#8221;, <a href="">The Conversation</a>, 2014.<br> Reid, John, &#8220;David Gill - Magnificent and Desirable Astronomer,&#8221; presentation at the International Conference on the History of Physics held at Trinity College, Cambridge, in September 2014. <a href="">arXive:1601.02519</a>.<br> Stoy, R.H., <i>Dictionary of Scientific Biography </i><b>5</b>, 403-06.<br> Tenn, Joseph S., &#8220;David Gill: The Third Bruce Medalist,&#8221; <a href="GillBio.pdf"><cite>Mercury</cite> <strong> 19</strong>, 3, 84 (1990)</a>.<br> Warner, Brian, &#8220;Sir David Gill (1843&#8211;1914)," <a href=""><i>Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa</i> <b>49</b>, 147-53 (1994)</a>.<br> <a href="">University of Aberdeen</a> </p> <p><header3>Obituaries</header3><br> Anonymous, <a href=""><i>Observatory</i> <b>37</b>, 115-17 (1914)</a>.<br> <a href="../Dyson/index.html">Dyson, F.W.</a>, <i>Proceedings of the Royal Society A</i> <b>91</b>, xxvi-xlii (1914-15).<br> <a href="../Eddington/index.html">E[ddington], A.S.</a>, <a href=""><i>MNRAS</i> <b>75</b>, 236-47 (1915)</a>.<br> <a href="../Kapteyn/index.html">Kapteyn, J.C.</a>, <a href=""><i>Ap.J.</i> <b>40</b>, 161-72 (1914)</a>.<br> Paterson, John A., <a href=""><i>JRASC</i> <b>13</b>, 343-59 (1919)</a>.<br> <b><a href="">More obituaries</a></b> </p> <p><header3>Portraits</header3><br> <a href="">Astronomical Society of Southern Africa</a> (several)<br> <a href="" >David and Isobel Gill at Mars Bay, Ascension, 1877, where Gill was observing the opposition of Mars in order to measure the solar parallax. From George Forbes, <i>David Gill: Man and Astronomer</i> (London, 1916), facing p. 94.</a> (sketch)<br> <a href="">Royal Astronomical Society/Science Photo Library</a> (several) <br> <a href="">Stamps from Ascension Island commemorating the centenary of the Gills&#8217; visit</a><br> <a href="">University of Aberdeen Natural Philosophy Collection</a> </p> <p><header3>Named after him</header3><br> <a href=";jsessionid=136B8C582F21B2E572AB03F483443BB5">Lunar crater Gill</a><br> <a href=";jsessionid=136B8C582F21B2E572AB03F483443BB5">Martian crater Gill</a><br> <a href="">Minor Planet #11761 Davidgill</a><br> Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, <a href="">Gill Medal</a> </p> <p><header3><a href="GillRefs.html" target="_self">More references</a></header3></p> <p> <center> <b><a href="../index.html" target="_parent">The Bruce Medalists</a></b> </center> </p> <table> <tr> <td valign="TOP"><font size="-1">Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to<br> <a href=""></a></td><br> <td align="RIGHT" valign="TOP"><font size="-1"><i> <a href="">JST</a> </i><br> <a href="">2020-07-05</a></td> </tr> </table>