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French amateur astronomer observes a new planet in our solar system

Astronomy, iconic image
03/26/1859

On this date, in his amateur observatory seventy miles from Paris, Edmund Lescarbault, a French doctor, observed a small dark body transit the Sun.  Leading French astronomer Urbain Le Ferrier checked Lescarbault's calculations and on January 2, 1860 announced the discovery of the planet Vulcan, a body between Mercury and the Sun, that had been hypothesized for decades.  Later science proved  Vulcan did not exist but it remained in literature as a handy fictional planet, including its role as the home planet of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek character Spock. (By John Osborne)

Source Citation: 
David Andrew Weintraub, Is Pluto a Planet?: A Historical Journey Through the Solar System (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 124-125

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How to Cite This Page: "French amateur astronomer observes a new planet in our solar system," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/22634.