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Urbain Le Verrier
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    (March 11, 1811-September 23, 1877)
    Born in Saint-Lo, France
    Specialized in celestial mechanics
    Director of the Paris Observatory (1854-70,1873-77)
    Based on discrepancies in the orbit of Uranus, predicted the existence of another planet (August 31, 1846)
    Planet discovered at the predicted location by Johann Galle and named Neptune (September 23, 1846)
    He suggested renaming Uranus after discoverer William Herschel and naming the new planet after himself.
    Neptune's existence was independently predicted by John Couch Adams of England, leading to a jingoistic dispute over who deserved credit.
    His heavy handed management style led to him being fired from the Paris Observatory following staff complaints. (Although he was reinstated after his successor died, albeit with a committee overseeing him.)
    Based on discrepancies in the orbit of Mercury, he predicted yet another planet -- tentatively named Vulcan -- located between Mercury and the Sun.
    Given the difficulties of spotting anything that close to the Sun, alleged sightings of Vulcan were fleeting and non-definitive.
    As turned out, the planet Vulcan exists only in Star Trek.
    John Crouch Adams himself credited Le Verrier, noting 'There is no doubt that his researches were first published to the world, and led to the actual discovery of the planet by Dr. Galle.'
    His calculations were so accurate that Galle found Neptune after less than an hour of searching, within one degree of the predicted location.
    He had discovered actual anomalies in Mercury's orbit, which would not be accounted for until 1915, when Einstein's Theory of General Relativity explained them as a result of space-time curving.
    He was described as 'The man who discovered a planet with the point of his pen.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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