Maskelyne, Nevil măs´kəlīn [key], 1732–1811, English astronomer. Maskelyne received his education at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Appointed astronomer royal at the Royal Observatory in 1765, he held this post for 46 years. He introduced the determination of longitude by lunar distances into English navigation, calculated these distances annually, and had them and other pertinent observations published in the Nautical Almanac, the first of which was available in 1766. At Schiehallion, a mountain in Scotland, he devised a method of measuring the mean density of the earth by using a pendulum.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Astronomy: Biographies