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Barnaba Oriani



Italian Barnabite and astronomer, b. at Carignano, near Milan, 17 July, 1752; d. at Milan, 12 November, 1832. After receiving an elementary education in his native town, he studied at the College of San Alessandro, Milan, where he was educated and supported by the Barnabites. He later joined the Barnabites, and, after studying the humanities, physical and mathematical sciences, philosophy, and theology, was ordained priest at the age of twenty-three. Specially interested in astronomy, he was shortly after his ordination (1776) appointed on the staff of the Observatory of Brera in Milan. He became assistant astronomer in 1778, and director in 1802. In 1778 he began to publish the dissertations on astronomical subjects which form an important part of the original memoirs appearing in the "Effemeridi di Milano" during the next fifty-two years. His work soon attracted considerable attention, and in 1785 a notable memoir containing his calculation of the orbit of Uranus and a table of elements for that planet won for him a prominent place among the astronomers of his time. He was admitted to membership in numerous learned societies, and offered the position of professor of astronomy at Palermo, which, however, he did not accept. In the following year he travelled throughout Europe at the expense of the state, visiting the chief observatories. When Napoleon set up the republic in Lombardy, Oriani refused absolutely to swear hatred towards monarchy; the new government modified the oath of allegiance in his regard, retained him in his position at the observatory, and made him president of the commission appointed to regulate the new system of weights and measures. When the republic was transformed into the Napoleonic kingdom Oriani received the decorations of the Iron Crown and of the Legion of Honour, was made count and senator of the kingdom, and was appointed in company with De Cesaris, to measure the arc of the meridian between the zeniths of Rimini and Rome. He was a devoted friend of the Theatine monk Piazzi, the discoverer of Ceres, and for thirty-seven years cooperated with him in many ways in his astronomical labours. Besides his constant contributions to the "Effemeridi di Milano", he published a series of important memoirs on spherical trigonometry (Memorie dell' Istituto Italiano, 1806-10) and the "Istruzione suelle misure e sui pesi" (Milan, 1831).

GABBA in TIPALDO, Italiani Illustri, III (Venice, 1836), 473-81; POGGENDORF, Handwörterbuch zur Gesch. der exacten Wissenschaften, II (Leipzig, 1863); CACCIATORE AND SCHIAPPARELLI, Correspondenza Astronomica fra Giuseppe Piazzi e Barnaba Oriani (Milan, 1874), introduction.

Edward C. Phillips.








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