The Giuseppe Piazzi Biography...What does a monk have to do with Astronomy?

The Giuseppe Piazzi Biography tells of a monk who developed an interest in both Mathematics and Astronomy.

Little is known of Giuseppe Piazzi’s life before he became a monk other than he was born on July 7, 1746 in Ponte in Valtellina. It is also known that Giuseppe Piazzi died on July 22, 1826 in Naples.

The Giuseppe Piazzi Biography basically begins when he became a Theatine monk. He went onto study both Mathematics and Astronomy. After his interest in Astronomy grew Piazzi obtained a grant from Prince Caramanico, Viceroy of Sicily. He built an observatory on top of one of the towers at the royal palace.

It was here that Piazzi discovered what he believed was a star. After studying it for four days he reasoned it was a planet located between Mars and Jupiter. He was afraid to announce it as such and instead claimed to have found a new comet. He later wrote Barnaba Oriani that he really thought it was something more than a comet but was afraid to announce it as such.

Carl Friedrich Gauss later determined the Piazzi was right and it was a small planet. Piazzi named it Ceres after the Roman and Sicilian goddess of grain. It turned out to be the largest of the asteroids.

The Giuseppe Piazzi Biography goes on to tell of his work in the publishing two new star catalogues. The second catalogue contained over 7600 stars.

In 1923, the 1000th asteroid was named 1000 Piazzi in his honor and more recently the Hubble telescope captured what appears to be a crater on Ceres. It has been informally named Piazzi.

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