John Goodricke

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Category: Biographies Published: Wednesday, 08 March 2006 12:45
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It is always good to have examples of succesful deaf people to offer as role models.

One such is  is John Goodricke
The Discovery of the Occultating Variable Stars

John Goodricke (1764-1786), Astronomer

John Goodricke was born September 17, 1764 in Groningen as a son of a British diplomat and a dutch merchant daughter. With the age of five he got scarlet fever and lost his hearing abilities completely because of it. But after a proper education he was able to read lips and to speak. For this, the rich parents had sent him to a specialized school in Edinburgh. 1778 with the age of thirteen he was able to go to the academy in Warrington near York which had no special treatment or equipment for handicapped persons.
He was the first one to calculate the period of the variable star Algol to 68 hours and 50 minutes, where the star was changing its brightness by more than a magnitude as seen from Earth. Goodricke was reporting this observations in 1783 at the British Royal Society, and for explaning these observations he proposed two theories: that the distant sun is periodically occulted by a dark body, or that the star itself has a darker region which is directing to Earth periodically because of the star rotation. With his first theory Goodricke is noted as the discoverer of the occultating variable stars in the history of astronomy. For his report he got the Godfrey Copley medal from the Royal Society for important scientific discoveries.

John Goodricke was admitted to the Royal Society at April the 16th 1786 already when 21 years old. He didn't recognized this honor anymore, because he died in 1786 at April the 20th in York by pneumonia. One of the halls of the York university is named after him in remembrance.