37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 9 From Arago and Aratus to Zeiss
HAD Invited, Monday, September 5, 2005, 4:00-5:30pm, Umney Theatre, Robinson College

[Previous] | [Session 9] | [Next]

[9.01] Laborious and perilous adventures: the triumphant return of Francois Arago to France

P. Murdin (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge)

As a young man, while measuring the Paris Meridian in the Balearic Islands, the French astronomer Francois Arago was caught up in events of the Peninsular and Napoleonic Wars and found himself under arrest in Algiers. Released from custody and returning from Algiers to Marseille in 1809, he was detained again, this time by the British Royal Navy warship HMS Minstrel, but let go. The Algerian ships with which he was traveling were captured and taken to Gibraltar. The incident caused an abrupt deterioration in Anglo-Algerian relations, which however recovered when Napoleon declared war on Algiers. A comparison of the account in his autobiography with the logs of Royal Navy ships confirms the outline and many details of his account of his arrest but also sheds light on the reliability of his autobiography.

[Previous] | [Session 9] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.