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Francis Baily (1774-1844), Astronomer; President of the Astronomical Society

Sitter in 5 portraits
A member of the London Stock Exchange, Baily was an important figure in defining financial practices and wrote several works on annuity tables. Having amassed a large fortune, he retired in 1825 to devote himself to his passion, astronomy. He had already, in 1820, co-founded the Royal Astronomical Society and he applied his tabular and calculating skills in revising important star catalogues. In 1827 he was awarded the Society's Gold Medal for his preparation of its Catalogue of 2881 Stars. He is best remembered for his vividly described observations of 'Baily's Beads' during an annular eclipse in 1836. This phenomenon is where the visible solar crescent around the moon is broken up by the inequalities of the moon's edge.