Maraldi, James Philip

, a learned astronomer and mathematician, was born in 1665 at Perinaldo in the county of Nice, a place already honoured by the birth of his maternal uncle, the celebrated Cassini. Having made a considerable progress in mathematics, at the age of twentytwo his uncle, who had been a long time settled in France, invited him there, that he might himself cultivate the promising genius of his nephew. Maraldi no sooner applied himself to the contemplation of the heavens, than he conceived the design of forming a catalogue of the fixed stars, the foundation of the whole astronomical edifice. In consequence of this design, he applied himself to observe them with the most constant attention; and he became by this means so intimate with them, that on being shown any one of them, however small, he could immediately tell what constellation it belonged to, and its place in that constellation. He has been known to discover those small comets, which astronomers often take for the stars of the constellation in which they are seen, for want of knowing precisely what stars the constellation consists | f, when others, on the spot, and with eyes directed equally to the same part of the heavens, could not for a long time see any thing of them.

In 1700 he was employed under Cassini in prolonging the French meridian to the northern extremity of France, and had no small share in completing it. He next set out for Italy, where Clement the Xltli invited him to assist at the assemblies of the congregation then sitting in Rome to reform the calendar. Bianchini also availed himself of his assistance to construct the great meridian of the Carthusian church in that city. In 1718 Maraldi, with three other academicians, prolonged the French meridian to the southern extremity of that conntry. He was admitted a member of the academy of sciences of Paris in 1699, in the department of astronomy, and communicated a great multitude of papers, which are printed in t;heir memoirs, in almost every year from 1699 to 1729, and iisually several papers in each of the years; for he was indefatigable in his observation of every thing that was curious and useful in the motions and phenomena of the heavenly bodies. As to the catalogue of the fixed stars, it was not quite completed: just as he had placed a munil quadrant on the terras of the observatory, to observe some stars towards the north and the zenith, he fell sick, and died the 1st of December 1729. 1


Hutton’s Dict. Martin’s Biog. Pbilos. —Fabroni Vitæ Italorum, vol. VIII. —Moreri.