Cyril Jackson (astronomer)

Cyril V. Jackson ( born December 5, 1903 in Ossett (near Leeds ) in England; † February 1988 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) was a South African astronomer and discoverer of 72 comets asteroids and 3.


Jackson was born in England but moved at the age of 7 years with his family to Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1922 he enrolled at the University of Witwatersrand. In the first year as a student, he began working at the Union Observatory, where he assisted in mapping the southern sky and the search for asteroids and comets.

Six years later, he received a permanent position. In April 1929 he discovered ( 1116) Catriona the first of a total of 72 asteroids, which he gave typical African names for the most part. He even dedicated the asteroid ( 2193 ) Jackson. Among his discoveries were also three comets, including two periodic ( 58P/Jackson-Neujmin and 47P/Ashbrook-Jackson ), which can be observed today. From 1935-1936 Cyril V. Jackson, acting as President of the South African Astronomy Association.

With the exception of the comet 47P/Ashbrook-Jackson, the 1948 Jackson accidentally recorded during an exposure test of a new camera, dating all his discoveries in the period before the Second World War. After the outbreak Jackson served in the Union Defence Force in North Africa and Italy. He returned after the war to Johannesburg, where he was director of the Yale - Columbia Southern Station ( formerly: Yale Observatory) was.

Due to the growing number of light sources and the associated deterioration of the conditions of observation, the telescope was finally dismantled and taken to the Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra to Australia. Jackson oversaw the relocation of the instrument from 1951-1956, where he worked from 1957 to 1963. In 1963, the Southern Observatory in Argentina was reopened, Cyril V. Jackson was appointed director. Here he remained until he retired in 1966.

Already in the 1950s, Jackson bought the farm Hilltop in South Africa, where he had built a private observatory. Here he retired to his professional life.

Private life

Cyril V. Jackson was married to Maria Aletta Lessing. He had two sons and a daughter. His son Paul described his father as a withdrawn loner, very dedicated astronomy of his time. Cyril V. Jackson died in February, 1988 in Pietermaritzburg.