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Famous Astronomers from South Africa

Updated February 11, 2020 3.4k views10 items

List of notable or famous astronomers from South Africa, with bios and photos, including the top astronomers born in South Africa and even some popular astronomers who immigrated to South Africa. If you're trying to find out the names of famous South African astronomers then this list is the perfect resource for you. These astronomers are among the most prominent in their field, and information about each well-known astronomer from South Africa is included when available.

List contains people like Robert T. A. Innes and David Gill.

This historic astronomers from South Africa list can help answer the questions "Who are some South African astronomers of note?" and "Who are the most famous astronomers from South Africa?" These prominent astronomers of South Africa may or may not be currently alive, but what they all have in common is that they're all respected South African astronomers.

Use this list of renowned South African astronomers to discover some new astronomers that you aren't familiar with. Don't forget to share this list by clicking one of the social media icons at the top or bottom of the page. {#nodes}
  • Cyril V. Jackson (5 December 1903 – February 1988) was a South African astronomer, born in Ossett, Yorkshire in England, but his father emigrated to South Africa in 1911. He worked at Union Observatory in Johannesburg from 1928 to 1947 (IAU code 078, previously known as Transvaal Observatory and later known as Republic Observatory). He served with South African forces in the second world war, and was mentioned in despatches. After the war he was director of the Yale-Columbia Southern Observatory (YCSO) station in Johannesburg (IAU code 077), which had been established by Yale University in the 1920s. Columbia University subsequently collaborated in that venture and the operation became...  more
    • Age: 117
    • Birthplace: Ossett, United Kingdom
  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    Sir David Gill (12 June 1843 – 24 January 1914) was a Scottish astronomer who is known for measuring astronomical distances, for astrophotography, and for geodesy. He spent much of his career in South Africa....  more
    • Age: Dec. at 70 (1843-1914)
    • Birthplace: Aberdeen, United Kingdom
  • 3

    Ernest Leonard Johnson

    Ernest Leonard Johnson (1891 - 1977) was a South African astronomer and a former staff member of the Union Observatory in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is known for the discovery of 18 asteroids between 1946–1951, as well as several comets. On 25 August 1949, he discovered 48P/Johnson, a periodic comet expected to pass no closer than 1.2 to 1.3 AU from our planet in 2025. Johnson received the "Donohoe Comet Medal" twice before retiring in 1956. He died in 1977. ...  more
    • 4

      Harry Edwin Wood

      Harry Edwin Wood (3 February 1881 – 27 February 1946) was an English astronomer, director of the Union Observatory in Johannesburg, and discoverer of minor planets.Wood was born in Manchester, graduating from Manchester University in 1902 with first class honours in physics, going on to gain an M.Sc in 1905. In 1906 he was appointed the Chief Assistant at the Transvaal Meteorological Observatory, which soon acquired telescopes and which became known as the Union Observatory and later Republic Observatory. In 1909, he married Mary Ethel Greengrass, also a physics graduate of Manchester University. Wood served as the observatory's director from 1928 to 1941, succeeding Robert Innes. He also...  more
      • Age: Dec. at 65 (1881-1946)
      • Birthplace: Manchester, United Kingdom