Edward Emerson Barnard

Edward Emerson Barnard


Date of Birth
December 16, 1857
Date of Death
February 6, 1923

As a poverty-stricken photographer’s assistant in Tennessee, young Edward Barnard made his own telescope and discovered several comets. These discoveries led to his gaining an education at Vanderbilt University and joining the initial staff of the Lick Observatory, where, with his exceptionally keen vision and the new 36-inch Lick refractor, he discovered Amalthea, the fifth known moon of Jupiter. In 1895 he moved to the not-yet-completed Yerkes Observatory. He made many studies, both visual and photographic, of the physical features of planets, comets, nebulae, and novae. Barnard’s careful drawings of Mars were used by the astronomical community as evidence for the nonexistence of canals on Mars. His greatest achievement was the introduction of wide-field photographic methods to study the structure of the Milky Way. This was done concurrently by Max Wolf in Germany, and the two praised each other's work. He discovered dark clouds and globules and the star with the largest known proper motion.

Presentation of Bruce medal

Townley, Sidney D., PASP 29, 77-87 (1917)

Other awards

French Academy of Sciences, Lalande (1892), Arago (1893), and Janssen (1900) Gold Medals.
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1897, presented by A.A. Common, MNRAS 57, 321-28 (1897).

Biographical materials

Burnham, S.W., [3 articles on Barnard's life and work]; Popular Astronomy 1, 193-95; 341-45; 441-47 (1893).
Chandler, Walter, The Challenge of Handicap; How Four Tennesseans Met the Dare and Won, (Walter Chandler, Nashville, TN, 1964).
Frost, Edwin B., Scientific Memoirs of the National Academy of Science 21 (14) 1-23.
Hardie, Robert H., “The Early Life of E.E. Barnard,” Leaflets of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 9, 113-20 (1964) [Leaflet #415] and 121-28 (1964) [Leaflet #416].
Paterson, John A., “Edward Emerson Barnard, his Life and Work,” JRASC 18, 309-18 (1924).
Sheehan, William,The Immortal Fire within: the Life and Work of Edward Emerson Barnard (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, UK, 1995).
Tenn, Joseph S., “Edward E. Barnard: The Fourteenth Bruce Medalist,” Mercury 21, 5, 164 (1992).


Aitken, R.G., PASP 35, 87-94 (1923).
D[enning], W.F.., MNRAS 84, 221-225 (1924).
Fox, Philip, Popular Astronomy 31, 195-200 (1923).
Frost, Edwin B., Ap. J. 58, 1-35 (1923).
Mitchell, S.A., Observatory 46, 158-64 (1923).
Parkhurst, J.A., JRASC 17, 97-103 (1923).


AIP Center for History of Physics
Georgia Tech, “A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way
Steinicke, Wolfgang, “Edward Emerson Barnard

Named after him

Lunar crater Barnard
Martian crater Barnard
Barnard Regio, a region on Ganymede
Minor Planet #819 Barnardiana
Barnard’s Star
Barnard Hall at Vanderbilt University


Papers, etc.

Barnard’s papers are at Vanderbilt University, the Mary Lea Shane Archives of the Lick Observatory at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Chicago Library. There is much of interest in the Barnard-Hale Correspondence in the Hale Microfilms.

Other References: Historical

Search ADS for works about Barnard

Barnard, Edward Emerson, “The Development of Photography in Astronomy,” Popular Astronomy 6, 425-55 (1898). Also Science 8, 341-53 (1898) and 8, 386-95 (1898).

Bryan, James, “E.E. Barnard and the 1889 Eclipse of Iapetus,” Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage 10, 31-48 (2007).

Curtis, Heber Doust, “The Comet-Seeker Hoax,” Popular Astronomy 46, 71-75 (1938).

Dekker, Elly, “The Light and the Dark: A Reassessment of the Discovery of the Coalsack Nebula, the Magellanic Clouds and the Southern Cross, Annals of Science, 47, 529-560 (1990).

Frost, Edwin B., “The Yerkes Observatory: A Retrospect of Twenty-five Years” The University Record IX, 1 (1923).

MacDonald, Lee, “Isaac Roberts, E.E. Barnard and the Nebulae,” Journal for the History of Astronomy 41, 239-59 (2010).

McGill, John T., “Edward Emerson Barnard Commemoration,” Popular Astronomy 36, 336-39 (1928).

Moore, J.H., “Fifty Years of Research at the Lick Observatory,” PASP 50, 189-203 (1938).

Osterbrock, D.E., J. Gustafson, & J.S. Unruh, Eye on the Sky: Lick Observatory’s First Century (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1988).

Osterbrock, Donald E., “Getting the Picture: Wide-field Astronomical Photography from Barnard to the Achromatic Schmidt 1888-1992,” Journal for the History of Astronomy 25, 1-14 (1994).

Sheehan, William, “Edward Barnard’s Magnificent Milky Way,” Astronomy 24 6, 32-39 (1996).

Sheehan, William & John W. Briggs, “E.E. Barnard and the 1889 Eclipse of Iapetus,” Sky & Telescope 91, 2, 38-41 (1996).

Sheehan, William, “E.E. Barnard’s Milky Way,” Sky & Telescope 110 6, 38-44 (2005).

Van Biesbroeck, G., ed., “E.E. Barnard’s Visit to G. Schiaparelli,” Popular Astronomy 42, 553-558 (1934).

Wesemael, François, Karl del Duchetto, & René Racine, “From J. Winthrop, Jr, to E. E. Barnard: The Arduous Path to the First Sighting of Amalthea,” Journal for the History of Astronomy 42, 125-39 (2011).

Other References: Scientific

Search ADS for works by Barnard

Barnard, E.E., “Observations of Comet 1885 (Barnard),” Astr. Nach. 112, 371-74 (1885).

Barnard, E.E., “On the Photographs of the Milky Way made at the Lick Observatory in 1889,” PASP 2, 240-44 (1890).

Barnard, E.E., “Discovery and Observations of a Fifth Satellite to Jupiter, 1892,” Astronomical Journal 12, 81-85 (1892).

Barnard, Edward Emerson, “Recent Visual and Photographic Astronomy,” Geographical Society of the Pacific, Trans. and proceedings. III, 49-58 (1892).

Barnard, E. E., “Photographs of the Milky Way,” Ap.J. 1, 10, (1895).

Barnard, E.E., “Observations of the Fifth Satellite of Jupiter in the Years 1908 and 1909, with a New Determination of its Period. Miscellaneous Observations of Jupiter and his Belts and Moons,” Astr. Nach. 181, 301/02-309/10 (1909).

Barnard, E.E., “Observations of Halley’s Comet and Notes on its Photographic Appearance,” Astronomical Journal 26, 76 (1910).

Barnard, E.E., “Photographs of the Milky Way and of Comets,” Publications of Lick Observatory 11, 9-46 (1913).

Barnard, E.E., “A Small Star with Large Proper-Motion,” Astronomical Journal 29, 181 (1916).

Barnard, E.E., “On the Dark Markings of the Sky, with a Catalogue of 182 Such Objects,” Ap.J. 49, 1-24 (1919).

Barnard, Edward Emerson, A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way. Edited by Edwin B. Frost and Mary R. Calvert. (Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, 1927). This beautiful atlas is available online, courtesy of the library of Georgia Institute of Technology.

Barnard, E.E., “Measures of the Satellites of Saturn and Position Angles of the Rings (prepared for publication by Mary R. Calvert),” Astronomical Journal 37, 157-72 (1927).

Other Works: Popularizations, History, etc.

Barnard, E.E., “Some of the Results of Astronomical Photography Pertaining Specially to the Work with a Portrait Lens,” Popular Astronomy 16, 286-98 (1908).

Barnard, E.E., “Enke’s Comet. On the Possibility of Photographing the Comet at all Point in its Orbit,” Popular Astronomy 22, 607-10 (1914) [poem].

Barnard, E.E., “A Few Astronomical Events of the Past Fifty Years,” Popular Astronomy 24, 479-87 (1916) [Address at the semi-centennial of the Dearborn Observatory].

Barnard, E.E., “True Greatness,” Popular Astronomy 26, 146 (1918) [poem].