The Biography of Félix Tisserand

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Félix Tisserand studied at the École Normale. In his doctoral thesis, written in 1868, Tisserand extended Delaunay's work on the three-body problem on the orbit of the Moon. This work was a great contribution to mathematical astronomy coming after the publication of the second volume of Delaunay's work on lunar theory "La Théorie du mouvement de la lune" which had been published in 1867. Tisserand was then appointed as an assistant-astronomer at the Paris Observatory. This was an unfortunate time at the Paris Observatory since its Director Le Verrier had become very unpopular following his drive for efficiency and attempts were being made to have him removed. In 1870 Delaunay was appointed as Director of the Paris Observatory to replace Le Verrier. Tisserand showed remarkable abilities in his work at the Observatory and it was clear that he would soon achieve an elevated position in the world of astronomy. In 1873 Tisserand was appointed director of the Toulouse Observatory to succeed Daguin, a post which he held for five years.

At the Toulouse Observatory Tisserand appointed two young astronomers, Joseph Perrotin and Guillaume Bigourdan, to help him in his observational work. Neither were good at astronomy but Tisserand had made two good choices for he soon trained the young men to become astronomers of outstanding qualities. Tisserand did not spend the whole of his five years as director in Toulouse. In 1874 he went to Japan to make observations of the transit of Venus which occurred that year. A transit of Venus is when the planet passed in front of the disc of the sun as viewed from the Earth and Tisserand took a year to make the journey to Japan, make his observations, and return to France. In order to keep the Toulouse Observatory operating during this lengthy absence...