Jonathan Homer Lane

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Jonathan Homer Lane
Born August 9, 1819
Geneseo, New York
Died May 3, 1880 (1880-05-04) (aged 60)
Washington, D.C.
Nationality American
Fields astrophysics
Alma mater Yale University
Influences Charles Grafton Page

Jonathan Homer Lane (August 9, 1819 – May 3, 1880) was an American astrophysicist and inventor.


Lane's parents were Mark and Henrietta (née Tenny) Lane[1] and his education was at the Phillips Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. He graduated from Yale University in 1846. He worked for the U.S. Patent Office, and became a principal examiner in 1851. In 1869 he joined the Office of Weights and Measures, a part of the Department of the Treasury that later became the National Bureau of Standards.

Lane was particularly interested in astronomy, and was the first to perform a mathematical analysis of the Sun as a gaseous body. His investigations demonstrated the thermodynamic relations between pressure, temperature, and density of the gas within the Sun, and formed the foundation of what would in the future become the theory of stellar evolution (see Lane-Emden equation).

Simon Newcomb, in his memoirs, describes Lane as "an odd-looking and odd-mannered little man, rather intellectual in appearance, who listened attentively to what others said, but who, so far as I noticed, never said a word himself." Newcomb recounts his own role in bringing Lane's work, in 1876, to the attention of William Thomson who further popularized the work. Newcomb notes, "it is very singular that a man of such acuteness never achieved anything else of significance."

The crater Lane on the Moon is named after him.


  • Lane, J. H., "On the Theoretical Temperature of the Sun", 1870, American Journal of Science.


  1. ^ Hockey, Thomas (2009). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-387-31022-0. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 

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