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Charles Piazzi Smyth

Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900) was a Victorian antiquarian-astronomer. He was born in Naples, Italy, to Captain (later Admiral) William Henry Smyth and his wife Annarella. He was called Piazzi after his godfather, the Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, whose acquaintance his father had made at Palermo when serving in the Mediterranean. In 1846 he was appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland, based at the Calton Hill Observatory in Edinburgh, and professor of astronomy in the University of Edinburgh. Later, he wrote a popular account of a scientific voyage in Teneriffe, an astronomers Experiment. It was the first book ever illustrated by stereoscopic photographs ('photo-stereographs') and included 20 stereoviews of Teneriffe taken by the author using the wet collodion process. A stereoscope could be purchased which allowed the pictures to be viewed in 3-D without removing them from the book. In 1871 and 1872 Smyth investigated the spectra of the aurora, and zodiacal light. Smyth went on an expedition to Egypt to accurately measure every surface, dimension, and aspect of the Great Pyramid and subsequently published his book Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid in 1864. He died in 1900 and was buried at St. John's Church in the village of Sharow near Ripon. A small stone pyramid-shaped monument, topped by a Christian cross, marks his grave site.

Books by Charles Piazzi Smyth :