The Reverend Nathaniel Bliss (1700-1764)

A head and shoulders portrait of the Reverend Nathaniel Bliss. He was the Fourth Astronomer Royal, from 1762-64, he is wearing clerical bands and a gown. The son of a clothier, of Bisley, Gloucestershire, he gained an MA from Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1723 and became rector of St Ebbe's, Oxford, in 1736. He took over from Edmond Halley as the Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford on 18 February 1742. During this period, Bliss established the fourth observatory in Oxford, and his meridian mark was on the buildings of All Souls College.

Bliss worked at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich with Bradley, and undertook the observations for the transit of Venus on 6 June 1761. When Bradley died in 1762, Bliss applied successfully for the post of Astronomer Royal, to which he was appointed on 26 August 1762 a position he held until his death two years later. Besides his work at the Observatory, Bliss also worked for and with the Earl of Macclesfield, on astronomical problems. This work included making meridian observations of a comet approaching the Sun around 1744 at Shirburn Castle and at Greenwich. In April 1764 he made and published observations of the annular eclipse visible from Greenwich. Many of the observations made were considered potentially useful for solving the longitude problem and were therefore bought by the Board of Longitude from Bliss's widow.

Object Details

ID: BHC4144
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: British School, 18th century
Date made: 18th century
People: Bliss, Reverend Nathaniel
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Painting: 760 mm x 635 mm; Frame: 937 mm x 810 mm x 80 mm

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