Nicolas Louis de Lacaille

Who was Nicolas Louis de Lacaille?

Nicolas de Lacaille

The French astronomer Nicolas de Lacaille, who is best known for his catalogue of stars and astronomical objects, named fourteen constellations of stars. He studied theology, mathematics and astronomy in Paris. 1739 he was the assistant to the astronomer Jacques Cassini. Between 1750 and 1754 he studied stars and constellations which led him to the Cape of Hope. He also worked in southern Africa until he published his most famous work: Coelum Australe Stelliferum.

The work of Nicolas de Lacaille

During his work de Lacaille realized that several constellations already had a name. After examining them he discovered that the definition and number of southern constellations were inadequate. He introduced new constellations and clearly delimited the previous ones, which he used in his catalogue of about 1,900 bright stars. He also revised the affiliation of the stars stolen by Halley from the Argo constellation, which represents a huge constellation of 160 stars.

He returned to France in 1754, continued working and wrote other papers in which he talked about his experiments in mathematics, physics and other scientific disciplines, mathematics teaching, astronomy teaching, elementary mechanics and logarithms.

His last piece

Then Nicolas de Lacaille made a new discovery which enabled him to determine all the stars of the zodiacal signs. Taken in by this research, he disregarded his deteriorating state of health until his death.