Arthur Stanley Eddington

Arthur Stanley Eddington


Date of Birth
December 28, 1882
Date of Death
November 22, 1944

Arthur Stanley Eddington was born in England and educated at Manchester and the University of Cambridge. He spent seven years as chief assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich and forty-one as Plumian Professor at Cambridge. He made important investigations of stellar dynamics, and was an influential supporter of the view that the spiral nebulae were external galaxies. He contributed much to the introduction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity into cosmology, writing books on the new theory for both his fellow scientists and the public. He led one of the two 1919 solar eclipse expeditions which confirmed the predicted bending of starlight by gravity. Eddington's greatest contributions concerned the astrophysics of stars. He dealt with the importance of radiation pressure, the transfer of energy by radiation, the mass-luminosity relation, pulsations in Cepheid variables, and the very high densities of white dwarfs. He was one of the first to state that “subatomic” reactions must power the stars. He also investigated the physics of interstellar gas. Eddington wrote thirteen books, many of them for the general reader. The Internal Constitution of the Stars was extremely influential to a generation of astrophysicists.

Presentation of Bruce medal

Adams, W.S.PASP 36, 2-9 (1924).

Other awards

National Academy of Sciences, Henry Draper Medal, 1924.
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1924, presented by J.L.E. Dreyer, MNRAS 84, 548 (1924).
Royal Society, Royal medal, 1928.

Some offices held

International Astronomical Union, President, 1938-43.
Royal Astronomical Society, President, 1921-23.

Biographical materials

Chandrasekhar, S.Eddington: The Most Distinguished Astrophysicist of His Time (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983).
Crowther, J.G., British Scientists of the Twentieth Century (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1952).
Douglas, A. Vibert, Dictionary of Scientific Biography 4, 277-82.
Douglas, A. Vibert, The Life of Arthur Stanley Eddington (Thomas Nelson, London, 1956).
Evans, David S., The Eddington Enigma (Xlibris, Princeton, NJ, 1998).
Glass, Ian, Revolutionaries of the Cosmos: The Astro-Physicists (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK, 2005).
Hutchinson, Ian, Astrophysics and Mysticism: the life of Arthur Stanley Eddington
Jacks, L.P., Sir Arthur Eddington, Man of Science and Mystic; the 2nd Arthur Stanley Eddington Memorial Lecture, 2 November 1948 (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, UK, 1949).
Kilmister, C.W., Sir Arthur Eddington (Pergamon, Oxford, 1966).
McCrea, William H., “Arthur Stanley Eddington,” Scientific American A264, 92-97 (June 1991).
Mestel, Leon, “Arthur Stanley Eddington: Pioneer of Stellar Structure Theory,” Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage 7, 2, 65 - 73 (2004).
O’Connor, J.J. & E.F. Robertson, The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.
Stanley, Matthew, “Explorer of Stars and Souls: Arthur Stanley Eddington,” Physics World 18, 9, 1 (Sept. 2005).
Stanley, Matthew, Practical Mystic: Religion, Science, and A. S. Eddington (Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2007).
Stanley, Matthew & Virginia Trimble, Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (Springer, NY, 2007), pp. 325-27.
Tenn, Joe S., “Arthur Stanley Eddington: A Centennial Tribute,” Mercury 11, (6), 178-81 and 186-88 (1982).
Tenn, Joseph S., “Arthur Stanley Eddington: The Nineteenth Bruce Medalist,” Mercury 22, 4, 119 (1993).
Whitrow, G.J., “Eddington,” QJRAS 24, 258-266 (1983).


Anonymous, The Times, London, 23 November, 1944.
Douglas, A. Vibert, JRASC 39, 1-4 (1945).
Dingle, Herbert, Observatory 66, 1-12 (1945) [with an afterward by H.N. Russell].
Plummer, H.C., Obituary Notices of the Royal Society of London 5, 113-25 (1945).
Russell, Henry NorrisAp.J. 101, 133-35 (1945).
Spencer Jones, H. & E.T. Whittaker, MNRAS 105, 68-79 (1945).
PASP 57, 113 (1945). [excerpts from obituaries in 4 other journals]
More obituaries


AIP Center for History of Physics (several)
Smithsonian Libraries
The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive

Named after him

Eddington approximation, Eddington-Lemaitre universe, Eddington limit, Eddington’s standard model
Royal Astronomical Society, Eddington medal
Lunar crater Eddington
Minor Planet #2761 Eddington


Papers, etc.

Eddington’s papers are at the University of Cambridge, Trinity College Library. There is much correspondence elsewhere, especially at Cambridge. Papers of his biographer, Allie Vibert Douglas, are at Queen’s University Archives, Kingston, Canada.

Other References: Historical

Barrow, John D. & Leon Mestel, “Eddington: Leading the Field,” Astronomy & Geophysics 45, 3.10-3.13 (2004).

Batten, Alan H., “A Most Rare Vision: Eddington’s Thinking on the Relation Between Science and Religion,” QJRAS 35, 249-270 (1994).

Batten, Alan H., “What Eddington Did Not Say,” Isis 94, 656-59 (2003) with response by Erwin N. Hiebert, p. 660.

Bernstein, Jeremy, “The Reluctant Father of Black Holes,” Scientific American 274, 80-85 (1996).

Chandrasekhar, S., “Verifying the Theory of Relativity,” Bull. Atomic Sci. (1976); reprinted in Notes and Records of the Royal Society 30, 249–60 (1976).

Chandrasekhar, S.Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivations in Science (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987).

Chapman, David M.F., “Reflections: Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington,” JRASC 96, 252 (2002).

Cohen, Chapman, God and the Universe: Eddington, Jeans, Huxley and Einstein. With a reply by A.S. Eddington (Pioneer Press, London, c. 1930)

Coles, Peter, “Einstein, Eddington, and the 1919 Eclipse,” in V.J. Martinez, V. Trimble & M.J. Pons-Borderia, eds., Proceedings of International School on the Historical Development of Modern Cosmology, Valencia 2000 (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, CA, 2001), pp. 21-41.

Collins, Harry & Trevor Pinch, The Golem At Large: What Everyone Should Know about Science (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1993, 1994).

Cowling, Thomas, “The Development of the Theory of Stellar Structures,” QJRAS 7, 121-37 (1966).

Crelinsten, Jeffrey, Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, 2006).

Davidson, W., “George McVittie’s Work in Relativity,” Vistas in Astronomy 33, 65-69 (1990).

De Sabbata, V. & T.M. Karade, editors, Proceedings of the Sir Arthur Eddington Centenary Symposium (World Scientific, Singapore, 1984-1986).

Dingle, Herbert, The Sources of Eddington’s Philosophy; the 8th Arthur Stanley Eddington Memorial Lecture, 2 November 1954 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1954) 64 pp.

Douglas, A. Vibert, University of Toronto Quarterly (April 1945)

Durham, Ian T., “Eddington & Uncertainty,” Physics in Perspective 5, 398-418 (2003) [abstract].

Dyson, Freeman J., “Applications of Group Theory in Particle Physics,” Von Neumann Lecture, Ithaca, 1965.

Earman, John & Clark Glymour, “Relativity and Eclipses: The British Eclipse Expeditions of 1919 and Their Predecessors,” Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences 11, 49-85 (1980).

Earman, John & Clark Glymour, “The Gravitational Redshift as a Test of General Relativity: History and Analysis,” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 11, 175-214 (1980).

Eddington, A.S., “Forty Years of Astronomy,” in Needham, J. & W. Pagel, eds., Background to Modern Science (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1938).

Eggen, Olin, “Stellar Kinematics and Evolution,” Vistas in Astronomy 12, 367-414 (1970).

Fernie, J. Donald, “Judging Einstein,” American Scientist93, 5, 404-407 (2005).

Gale, George & John Urani, “Philosophical Midwifery and the Birthpangs of Modern Cosmology,” Am. J. Phys. 61, 66-73 (1993).

Kenat, R.C., Jr., Physical Interpretation: Eddington, Idealization and the Origin of Stellar Structure Theory (PhD Dissertation, U of Maryland, 1987)

Kennefick, Daniel, “Testing Relativity from the 1919 Eclipse—a Question of Bias,” Physics Today 62, 3, 37-42 (2009).

Kerszberg, Pierre, The Invented Universe: the Einstein-De Sitter controversy (1916-17) and the Rise of Relativistic Cosmology. (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1989).

Kilmister, C. W. Eddington’s Search for a Fundamental Theory: A Key to the Universe (Cambridge University Press, NY, 1995).

Kragh, Helge, Matter and Spirit in the Universe: Scientific and Religious Preludes to Modern Cosmology (Imperial College Press, London, 2004).

Lang, Kenneth R. & Owen Gingerich, eds., A Source Book in Astronomy & Astrophysics, 1900-1975 (Harvard Univ. Press, 1979) [contains six articles by Eddington, with commentaries].

Maunder, E. Walter, The Royal Observatory, Greenwich: A Glance at its History and Work (The Religious Tract Society, London, 1900).

McCrea, William H., “Einstein: Relations with the Royal Astronomical Society,” QJRAS 20, 251-260 (1979).

McCrea, William, “Personal Recollections: Some Lessons for the Future,” in B. Bertotti, R. Balbinot, S. Bergia, & A. Messina, eds., Modern Cosmology in Retrospect (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 196-219.

Milne, E.A., Sir James Jeans: A Biography (Cambridge, 1952).

Nielsen, Axel V., “Contributions to the History of the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram,” Centaurus 9, 219-53 (1964).

North, J.D., “The Early Years,” in B. Bertotti, R. Balbinot, S. Bergia, & A. Messina, eds., Modern Cosmology in Retrospect (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 11-30.

Prokhovnik, S.J., “Eddington’s ‘Expanding Universe’,” in de Sabbata, V. & T.M. Karade, eds., Sir Arthur Eddington Centenary Symposium. Vol. 1: Relativistic Astrophysics and Cosmology (World Scientific, Singapore, 1984), pp. 28-44.

Ritchie, A[rthur] D[avid], Reflections on the Philosophy of Sir Arthur Eddington; the 1st Arthur Stanley Eddington Memorial Lecture 4 November 1947 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1948).

Russell, Henry Norris, “Review of The Internal Constitution of the Stars, by Arthur Eddington,” Ap.J .67, 83-88 (1928).

Ryckman, Thomas, The Reign of Relativity: Philosophy in Physics 1915-1925 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2005).

Sageret, Jules, Le Système du Monde de Pythagore à Eddington (Payot, Paris, 1931), Part V.

Schwarzschild, Martin, “Convection in Stars,” [1960 Russell Lecture] Ap. J. 134, 1 (1961).

Sitterly, Bancroft W., “Changing Interpretations of the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, 1910-1940: A Historical Note,” Vistas in Astronomy 12, 357-366 (1970).

Sponsel, Ailstair, “Constructing a ‘Revolution in Science’: The Campaign to Promote a Favourable Response for the 1919 Solar Eclipse Experiments,” British Journal for the History of Science 35, 439-67 (2002).

Stachel, J., “Eddington and Einstein,” The Prism of Science, E. Ullmann-Margalit, ed. (D. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1986), p. 225-250.

Stanley, Matthew, “‘An Expedition to Heal the Wounds of War’: The 1919 Eclipse and Eddington as Quaker Adventurer,” Isis 94, 57-89 (2003).

Stanley, Matthew, “‘So Simple a Thing as a Star: the Eddington–Jeans Debate over Astrophysical Phenomenology,” British Journal for the History of Science 40, 53-82 (2007).

Stanley, Matthew, “‘Mysticism and Marxism: A.S. Eddington, Chapman Cohen, and Political Engagement Through Science Popularization,” Minerva 46, 181-94 (2008).

Stebbing, Lizzie Susan, Philosophy and the Physicists (Dover, 1958).

von Klüber, H., “The Determination of Einstein's Light-Deflection in the Gravitational Field of the Sun, ” Vistas in Astronomy 3, 47-77 (1960).

Wali, Kameshwar C., Chandra (U of Chicago P, 1990).

Whitrow, G.J., “Theoretical Cosmology in the Twentieth Century,” Human Implications of Scientific Advance, Eric Gray Forbes, ed., Proceedings of the 15th International Congress of the History of Science in Edinburgh 10-15 Aug 1977 (Edinburgh Univ. Press, Edinburgh, 1978), p.576-93.

Whittaker, Edmund Taylor, Eddington’s Principle in the Philosophy of Science; the 5th Arthur Stanley Eddington Memorial Lecture 9 August 1951 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1951) 35 pp.

Whittaker, Sir Edmund, From Euclid to Eddington, A Study of Conceptions of the External World (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1949).

Witt-Hansen, Johannes, Exposition and Critique of the Conceptions of Eddington concerning the Philosophy of Physical Science (G. E. C. Gad, Copenhagen, 1958).

Woolley, Richard, “The Stars and the Structure of the Galaxy,” QJRAS 11, 403-28 (1970).

Yolton, John W., The Philosophy of Science of A.S. Eddington (Nartinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1960).

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Other References: Scientific

Eddington, A.S., “Systematic Motions of the Stars,” MNRAS 67, 34-63 (1906).

Eddington, A.S., “On the Mathematical Theory of Two Star-drifts, and on the Systematic Motions of Zodiacal Stars,” MNRAS 68, 588-613 (1907).

Eddington, A.S., “The Distribution in Space of the Bright Stars,” MNRAS 73, 346-58 (1912).

Eddington, A.S., Stellar Movements and the Structure of the Universe (Macmillan, London, 1914).

Eddington, A.S., “The Dynamics of a Gobular Stellar System,” MNRAS 74, 5-16 (1913) and 75, 366-76 (1915).

Eddington, A.S. & W.E. Hartley, “A Determination of the Systematic Motions of the Stars from the Radial Velocities,” MNRAS 75, 521-30 (1915).

Eddington, A.S., “The Dynamics of a Stellar System. Third paper: Oblate and Other Distributions,” MNRAS 76, 37-60 (1915).

Eddington, A.S., “The Pulsation Theory of Cepheid Variables,” Observatory 40, 290-93 (1917).

Eddington, A.S., “On the Radiative Equilibrium of the Stars,” MNRAS 77, 16-35 (1916) and 77, 596-612 (1917).

Eddington, A.S., “The Motions of Spiral Nebulae,” MNRAS 77, 375-377 (1917).

Dyson, F.W., A.S. Eddington, & C. Davidson, “A Determination of the Deflection of Light by the Sun’s Gravitational Field, from Observations Made at the Total Eclipse of May 29, 1919,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A220, 291-333 (1920).

Eddington, A.S., Report on the Relativity Theory of Gravitation (Fleetway Press, London, 1920).

Eddington, A.S., Space, Time and Gravitation, An Outline of the General Relativity Theory (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1920; reissued, 1987) [alternate source]

Eddington, A.S., “The Internal Constitution of the Stars,” Presidential Address to Section A of the British Association at Cardiff 42 Aug 1920, 34-49 (1920). Reprinted in Nature 106, 14 (1920). [This important lecture is posted online and annotated by Richard McCray]

Eddington, Arthur Stanley, The Theory of Relativity and its Influence on Scientific Thought [Romanes Lecture, 1922] (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1922).

Eddington, A.S., The Mathematical Theory of Relativity (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1923).

Eddington, A.S., “On the Absorption of Radiation Inside a Star,” MNRAS 83, 32-46 (1922) and 84, 104-23 (1924).

Eddington, A.S., “On the Relation between the Masses and Luminosities of the Stars,” MNRAS 84, 308-332 (1924).

Eddington, A.S., “A Limiting Case in the Theory of Radiative Equilibrium,” MNRAS 85, 408-413 (1925).

Eddington, A.S., The Internal Constitution of the Stars, (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1926; reissued with a forward by S. Chandrasekhar, 1988).

Eddington, A.S., “Diffuse Matter in Interstellar Space” [Bakerian Lecture, 1926], Proc. Royal Society A 111, 424-56 (1926).

Eddington, A.S., “Applications of the Theory of the Stellar Absorption Coefficient,” MNRAS 83, 98-109 (1922).

Eddington, A.S., “Theory of the Outer Layers of a Pulsating Star,” MNRAS 87, 539-53 (1927).

Eddington, A.S., “The Deviation of Stellar Material from a Perfect Gas,” MNRAS 88, 352-69 (1928).

Eddington, A.S., The Rotation of the Galaxy [Halley Lecture, 1930] (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1930).

Eddington, A.S., “The Recession of the Extra-galactic Nebulae,” MNRAS 92, 3-6 (1931).

Eddington, A.S., The Expanding Universe (Cambridge University Press, 1932).

Eddington, A.S., Relativity Theory Of Protons And Electrons (Cambridge University Press, 1936).

Eddington, A.S., “The Theoretical Values of the Physical Constants,” Proceedings of the Physical Society 54, 491-504 (1942).

Eddington, A.S., “The Combination of Relativity Theory and Quantum Theory,” Dublin Inst. Adv. Studies Communications A, 2 (1943).

Eddington, A.S., “The Interior of a Star,” Royal Institution Library of Science: Astronomy, pp. 243-57.

Eddington, A.S., “Ionisation Equilibrium in a Convective Region,” MNRAS 101, 177-81 (1941).

Eddington, A.S., “On the Cause of Cepheid Pulsation,” MNRAS 101, 182-94 (1941).

Eddington, A.S., “Conditions in the Hydrogen Convection Zone,” MNRAS 102, 154-58 (1942).

Eddington, A.S., “The Recession-Constant of the Galaxies,” MNRAS 104, 200-04 (1944).

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Other Works: Popularizations, History, etc.

Eddington, A.S., “The Domain of Physical Science,” in Science, Religion and Reality, J. Needham & A. James, Earl of Balfour, eds. (Macmillan, NY, 1925), pp. 187-218.

Eddington, A.S., Stars and Atoms (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 1927).

Eddington, A.S., The Nature of the Physical World [Gifford Lectures, 1927] (Macmillan, NY & Cambridge Univ. Press, 1928; Ann Arbor Paperbacks, 1958).

Eddington, A.S., Science and the Unseen World (Macmillan, NY, 1929) [Swarthmore Lecture, 1929].

Eddington, Arthur Stanley, New Pathways in Science [Messenger Lectures, 1934] (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1935).

Eddington, A.S., “The Reign of Relativity, 1915-37,” Birbeck Coll., Univ. of London, Haldane Lecture

Eddington, A.S., The Philosophy of Physical Science [Tarner Lecture, 1938] (University of Michigan Press, 1958)