The Daniel Kirkwood Biography. What does a Mathematics professor and Astronomy have in common?

The Daniel Kirkwood Biography tells of a Mathematics professor who had no access to an observatory, but used Mathematics to explain the works of other astronomers. He was referred to as the American Kepler.

The life of Daniel Kirkwood and his contributions to Astronomy

The Daniel Kirkwood Biography begins on September 27, 1817 in Hartford County, Maryland. Daniel Kirkwood was the son of John Kirkwood and Agnes Hope. He spent his early years very unhappy being a farm boy. This led him to becoming a teacher at the local school. Eventually his interests in wanting to learn algebra led him to the York County academy where he would later become a Mathematics instructor.

He went on to become a Mathematics professor at Delaware College in Newark Delaware and then president of the school. It was here that Kirkwood met and married his wife; Sarah A. McNair. Kirkwood left Delaware for financial reasons and moved to Bloomington, Indiana. He took the position of Mathematics professor at Indiana University.

The power of Mathematics

The Daniel Kirkwood Biography shows that even though Kirkwood never had access to an observatory it didn’t harm his future in astronomy. He used the discoveries and findings of other astronomers for his work in the Mathematical and theoretical areas of Astronomy.

His most notable contribution to Astronomy was his study on the orbits of the asteroids and the gaps of their orbits around the sun. This was done when only 50 asteroids were known to exist. Daniel Kirkwood biography states he was also the first to suggest that meteor showers were actually debris from comets. He went on to identify the distance of planets to their rotations. This is called Kirkwood’s Law. It has since been proven wrong.

He is credited with well 129 publications including the books, The Asteroids, or Minor Planets Between Mars and Jupiter, On the Theory of Meteors, and Meteoric Astronomy: A Treatise on Shooting-Stars, Fire-Balls, and Aerolites.

Daniel Kirkwood remained active his entire life and at the age of 77 became a lecturer in astronomy at Stanford University. He passed away on June 11, 1895 in Riverside, California at the age of 81.

Named after Daniel Kirkwood:

  • 1578 Kirkwood – asteroid
  • Kirkwood Gap
  • Kirkwood – crater on the moon
  • Kirkwood Avenue – Bloomington, Indiana
  • Kirkwood Observatory – Bloomington, Indiana
  • Kirkwood’s Law

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