Richard Christopher Carrington


English astronomer who by studying sunspots established the Sun's axis and rotation. He was the first to record the observation of a solar flare, in 1859.

Carrington was born in London and educated at Cambridge. He became an astronomical observer at Durham University. In 1853 he set up his own observatory at Redhill, Surrey; in 1865 he moved to Churt, near Farnham, Surrey, where he built another observatory.
Sunspot activity manifests itself in an 11-year cycle, and Carrington observed them for seven years, plotting their positions and movements by a method of his own devising. The principal results of this extended work were, first, to determine the position of the Sun's axis and, second, to show that the Sun's rotation is differential, that is, that it does not rotate as a solid body, but turns faster at the equator than at the poles. Carrington also derived a useful expression for the rotation of a spot in terms of heliographical latitude.
Carrington's Catalogue of 3,735 Circumpolar Stars 1857 was so highly regarded that it was printed by the Admiralty at public expense. An extensive account of all the sunspot observations was published 1863.

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