Ralph Allen Sampson

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Ralph Allen Sampson

Ralph Allen Sampson FRS[1] (June 25, 1866 – November 7, 1939) was an Irish-British astronomer.

He was born in Skull, Co Cork to James Sampson, a Cornish-born metallurgical chemist. The family moved to Liverpool and Sampson attended the Liverpool Institute and then graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge in 1888.[2] In 1891 he was awarded a scholarship to carry out astronomical research at Cambridge University. (He had been a student of astronomer John Couch Adams, and helped to edit and publish Part I of the second volume of Adams' papers in 1900).

In 1893 he was made Professor of Mathematics at Durham College of Science in Newcastle-on-Tyne and in 1895 was elected Professor of Mathematics at Durham University. In December 1910 he became Astronomer Royal for Scotland (until 1937) and Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh. He did pioneering work in measuring the color temperature of stars. He did important research into the theory of the motions of Jupiter's four Galilean satellites, for which he won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1928. He served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1915 to 1917.

In June 1903 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[1][3] At the fifth International Congress of Mathematicians held in 1912 in Cambridge, Sampson presented a paper entitled Some points in the theory of errors.[4]

He died in Bath, Somerset. The crater Sampson on the Moon is named after him.


  1. ^ a b Whittaker, E. T. (1940). "Ralph Allen Sampson. 1866-1939". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 3 (8): 220–226. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1940.0019. 
  2. ^ "Sampson, Ralph Allen (SM884RA)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". The Royal Society. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  4. ^ Snyder, Virgil (1913). "The fifth International Congress of Mathematicians. sections II-IV" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 19 (4): 175–191. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1913-02313-9. 


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