<<Benjamin Apthorp Gould (September 27, 1824 – November 26, 1896) was a pioneering American astronomer. His measurements of L. M. Rutherfurd's photographs of the Pleiades in 1866 entitle him to rank as a pioneer in the use of the camera as an instrument of precision. Astronomers continue to investigate the astrophysics of a large scale feature of the Milky Way to which he called their attention in 1877, and honor him with its name, The Gould Belt.
A crater on the Moon is named after him.
After going on to Harvard College and graduating in 1844, he studied mathematics and astronomy under C. F. Gauss at Göttingen, Germany, during which time he published approximately 20 papers on the observation and motion of comets and asteroids. Following completion of his Ph.D. (he was the first American to receive this degree in astronomy) he toured European observatories asking for advice on what could be done to further astronomy as a professional science in the U.S.A. The main advice he received was to start a professional journal modeled after what was then the world's leading astronomical publication, the Astronomische Nachrichten.
Gould returned to America in 1848 and from 1852 to 1867 was in charge of the longitude department of the United States Coast Survey. He developed and organized the service, was one of the first to determine longitudes by telegraphic means, and employed the Atlantic cable in 1866 to establish accurate longitude-relations between Europe and America.
After his return to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gould started the Astronomical Journal in 1849, which he published until 1861. He resumed publication in 1885 and it is still published today. From 1855 to 1859 he acted as director of the Dudley Observatory at Albany, New York, and in 1859 published a discussion of the places and proper motions of circumpolar stars to be used as standards by the United States Coast Survey. In 1861 he undertook the enormous task of preparing for publication the records of astronomical observations made at the U.S. Naval Observatory since 1850.
In 1851 Gould suggested numbering asteroids in their order of discovery, and placing this number in a disk (circle) as the generic symbol of an asteroid.
Appointed in 1862 actuary to the United States Sanitary Commission, he issued in 1869 an important volume of Military and Anthropological Statistics. In 1864 he fitted up a private observatory at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and undertook in 1868, on behalf of the Argentine republic, to organize a national observatory at Córdoba. In 1871 he became the first director of the Argentine National Observatory. While there, he and four assistants extensively mapped the southern hemisphere skies using newly developed photometric methods. On June 1, 1884, he made the last definite sighting of the Great Comet of 1882. The need of astronomers for good weather prediction spurred Gould to collaborate with Argentine colleagues to develop the Argentine National Weather Service, the first in South America.
In 1874 Gould completed his greatest work, the Uranometria Argentina (published 1879), for which he received in 1883 the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. The publication assigned Gould designations to all bright stars within 100 degrees of the south celestial pole in a manner similar to what Flamsteed had earlier done for the northern hemisphere. Gould followed his Uranometria Argentina with a zone-catalogue of 73,160 stars (1884), and a general catalogue (1885) compiled from meridian observations of 32,448 stars.>>