Burnham, Sherburne Wesley

Burnham, Sherburne Wesley (1838-1921), a United States astronomer. His General Catalogue of Double Stars (1906) contains data on 13,665 double stars, more than a thousand of which he discovered.

Burnham was born in Thetford, Vermont. While with the Union occupation forces in New Orleans during the Civil War, Burnham bought an astronomy book at an auction. It so aroused his interest that in 1869 he bought a six-inch (152-mm) telescope. With this small telescope he discovered 400 double stars. The fame he achieved as an observer led to his appointment to Lick Observatory (1888-92) and Yerkes Observatory (1897-1914), where he made hundreds of additional discoveries.