Kirkwood, Daniel, 1814-1895

Alternative names
Birth 1814-09-27
Death 1895-06-11

Biographical notes:

Astronomer and Indiana University professor of mathematics.

From the description of Daniel Kirkwood papers, 1864-1895. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 45063101

Daniel Kirkwood was an astronomer and professor of mathematics at Indiana University almost continuously from 1856 until 1886.

He was born 27 September 1814 in Harford County, Maryland to John and Agnes (Hope) Kirkwood. After attending school in his home county, Kirkwood began his career as a teacher in 1833, at Hopewell, Pennsylvania. In 1834 Kirkwood entered the York County Academy. A short time later, in 1838, he was appointed mathematical instructor.

Kirkwood's first college position was in Delaware College, Newark, Delaware, where he was professor of mathematics 1851-1856. During his last two years at the college he also served as college president. After departing Delaware for financial reasons, he came to Indiana University, where he served for 30 years as professor of mathematics, 1856-1886. Kirkwood died 11 June 1895 in Riverside, California.

Over the course of his career, Kirkwood published well over one hundred articles. Noted articles are his 1849 article for the Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where he first published his formula for the rotation periods of the planets and another article for Proceedings in 1866 where he identified the "Kirkwood Gaps" in the orbits of the minor planets, or asteroids. He accomplished this at a time when only about 50 asteroids had been discovered. For these findings, he is known throughout the world.

In Bloomington, Kirkwood's memory is honored by Kirkwood Avenue (1885), Kirkwood Hall (1895), and Kirkwood Observatory (1900). In 1995, he was added to the Monroe County Hall of Fame.

From the guide to the Daniel Kirkwood papers, 1864-1895, (Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management


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  • Astronomers--Archives
  • Mathematics teachers--Archives
  • Mathematicians--Correspondence
  • Mathematicians--Archives
  • Asteroids--Research
  • Astronomers--Correspondence
  • Meteors--Research
  • Mathematics teachers--Correspondence


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  • Indiana--Bloomington (as recorded)