People: Henry James Carpenter

Name Carpenter, Henry James
Place of work Greenwich
Employment dates
By 1865 – 1874

Posts By 1865


Born 1849


Died 1899, Dec 24



Carpenter started work at Greenwich as a Boy Computer. He quickly gained an observing certificate and observed until 1874. When James Carpenter (no relation) resigned as an Assistant in 1872, Henry Carpenter would have been 23 years old. The vacant Assistant post was the first to be filled by open competitive examination. It is not known if Henry Carpenter was one of those who sat the exam. If he did, he was unsucessful as the post was given to Downing in 1873. Henry Carpenter resigned his post as Computer in 1874 to become First Assistant under David Gill (who later became HM Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope) at Lord Linsay’s Dunecht Observatory in Aberdeen. While at Dunecht he assisted Stone (a former First Assistant at Greenwich) in the reduction of the observations from the British 1882 Transit of Venus expeditions, eventually arriving at an estimate of the mean Earth-Sun distance of 148,960,000 km ±400,000 km. In 1886 he became Astronomical Observer at Durham University Observatory and was still in post when he died at the age of 49. He was succeeded by his son



The Observatory, Vol. 23, p. 65-72 (1900)


Further reading and image

Henry James Carpenter, Astronomical Observer at the Durham University Observatory