Airy, Sir George Biddell, 1801–92, English astronomer. The son of a poor farmer, he distinguished himself as Senior Wrangler at Cambridge, where he was elected fellow of Trinity College (1824) and appointed professor (1826). As Astronomer Royal and director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory from 1835 to 1881, he organized the efficient and accurate observation of stellar positions. Airy wrote many governmental reports on astronomical and other subjects, published works on celestial mechanics, and made discoveries in theoretical and practical optics, including the cylindrical lens for correcting astigmatism, an eye defect he himself possessed.
See his autobiography (1896).
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