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E.E. Barnard

Edward Emerson Barnard, Vanderbilt’s First Astronomer

Born into extreme poverty prior to the Civil War, Edward Emerson Barnard began his working career at age 9 as an assistant for Van Stavoren’s photographic studio in Nashville. One of his assigned tasks was to keep an enlarging camera pointed directly at the sun. This experience piqued his interest in astronomy. When wealthy New York businessman Hulbert Harrington Warner established a $200 prize for newly discovered comets, Barnard was able to earn extra money from his comet discoveries. He used five Warner Prizes to fund the construction of his family residence, the “Comet House”, on Belmont Avenue. In 1883, Chancellor Garland hired Barnard as the first astronomer for the new campus observatory. He is credited with discovering sixteen comets during his career, ten of which were found during his residence in Nashville. He is best known for discovering Amalthea, the fifth moon of Jupiter.

Visit the exhibit at E. Bronson Ingram College at 2211 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37240.

Small portrait of Edward Emerson Barnard.
Small portrait of Emerson Barnard