Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 53

Nathaniel Bowditch - Life and work, Bowditch's American Practical Navigator, Legacy

Astronomer and mathematician, born in Salem, Massachusetts, USA. Self-taught after age 10, he worked in a ship's chandlery, and by 15 had compiled an astronomical almanac. He went to sea (1795–1803), serving as master on his last voyage. He began by correcting errors in the writings of others, especially John Hamilton Moore's Practical Navigator; his contributions were so extensive that by 1802 the book became the New American Practical Navigator and was credited to him; it has remained to this day the ‘seaman's bible’. He chose to pursue research on his own, while working as an insurance actuary. His publications include a translation of four volumes of Laplace's Mécanique céleste, which appeared with his commentary and updating as Celestial Mechanics (1829–39).

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or