Gérard de Vaucouleurs

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Gérard de Vaucouleurs
Gérard de Vaucouleurs00.jpg
Gérard Henri de Vaucouleurs

(1918-04-25)25 April 1918
Died7 October 1995(1995-10-07) (aged 77)
Nationality France
Alma materLycee Charlemagne (BSc, 1936)[1]
Sorbonne (PhD, 1949)
Known forDe Vaucouleurs's law
(m. 1944; died 1988)
AwardsHenry Norris Russell Lectureship (1988)
Prix Jules Janssen (1988)
Scientific career
InstitutionsYale University Observatory
Lowell Observatory
Harvard College Observatory
University of Texas at Austin

Gérard Henri de Vaucouleurs (25 April 1918 – 7 October 1995)[2] was a French astronomer.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Paris, he had an early interest in amateur astronomy and received his undergraduate degree in 1939 at the Sorbonne in that city. After military service in World War II, he resumed his pursuit of astronomy. He was married to fellow astronomer Antoinette de Vaucouleurs on October 31, 1944, and the couple would frequently collaborate on astronomical research.[3]

Fluent in English, he spent 1949–51 in England, 1951–57 in Australia, the latter at Mount Stromlo Observatory, 1957–58 at Lowell Observatory in Arizona and 1958–60 at Harvard. In 1960 he was appointed to the University of Texas at Austin, where he spent the rest of his career. He died of a heart attack in his home in Austin at the age of 77.[4]

His earliest work had concerned the planet Mars and while at Harvard he used telescope observations from 1909 to 1958 to study the areographic coordinates of features on the surface of Mars.[5] His later work focused on the study of galaxies and he co-authored the Third Reference Catalogue of Bright Galaxies with his wife Antoinette (1921-1987), a fellow UT Austin astronomer and lifelong collaborator.[3]

His specialty included reanalyzing Hubble and Sandage's galaxy atlas and recomputing the distance measurements utilizing a method of averaging many different kinds of metrics such as luminosity, the diameters of ring galaxies, brightest star clusters, etc., in a method he called "spreading the risks." During the 1950s he promoted the idea that galactic clusters are grouped into superclusters.[4]

The de Vaucouleurs modified Hubble sequence is a widely used variant of the standard Hubble sequence.

De Vaucouleurs was awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship by the American Astronomical Society in 1988. He was awarded the Prix Jules Janssen of the Société astronomique de France (Astronomical Society of France) in the same year. He and his wife and longtime collaborator, Antoinette, together produced 400 research and technical papers, 20 books and 100 articles for laymen.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gerard Henri de Vaucouleurs (1918 - 1995)". American Astronomical Society. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  2. ^ Robert McG. Thomas Jr. (October 11, 1995). "Gerard de Vaucouleurs, 77, Galactic Astronomer, Is Dead". The New York Times. p. B8.
  3. ^ a b "In Memoriam: Antoinette de Vaucouleurs, 1921-1987". The University of Texas at Austin. October 13, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Thomas Jr., Robert McG. (October 11, 1995), "Gerard de Vaucouleurs, 77, Galactic Astronomer, Is Dead", The New York Times, retrieved 2012-02-21
  5. ^ de Vaucouleurs, Gerard (1963). "Precision Mapping of Mars". La Physique des Planetes; Communications Presentees au Onzieme Colloque International d'Astrophysique tenu a Liège, les 9, 10 et 11 Juillet 1962. Liège International Astrophysical Colloquia. Vol. 11. pp. 369–385. Bibcode:1963LIACo..11..369D.

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