Skip to content

James Curley

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

An astronomer, b. at Athleague, County Roscommon, Ireland, 26 October, 1796; d. at Georgetown, District of Columbia, U.S., 24 July 1889. His early education was limited, though his talent for mathematics was discovered, and to some extent developed, by a teacher in his native town. He left Ireland in his youth, arriving in Philadelphia, 10 October, 1817. Here he worked for two years as a bookkeeper and then taught mathematics at Frederick, Maryland. In 1826 he became a student at the old seminary in Washington, intending to prepare himself for the priesthood, and at the same time taught one of its classes. The seminary, however, which had been established in 1820, was closed in the following year and he entered the Society of Jesus , 29 September, 1827. After completing his novitiate he again taught in Frederick and was sent (1831) to teach natural philosophy at Georgetown College. He also studied theology and was ordained priest on 1 June, 1833. His first Mass was said at the Visitation Convent, Georgetown, where he afterwards acted as chaplain for fifty years. He spent the remainder of his life at Georgetown, where he taught natural philosophy and mathematics for forty-eight years. He planned and superintended the building of the Georgetown Observatory in 1844 and was its first director, filling this position for many years. One of his earliest achievements was the determination of the longitude of Washington. His results did not agree with those obtained at the Naval Observatory, and it was not until after the laying of the first transatlantic cable in 1858 that his determination was found to be near the truth. The coincidence, however, was partly accidental, as the method which he employed was not susceptible of very great precision. Father Curley was also much interested in botany. He is best remembered, however, as a teacher. He wrote "Annals of the Observatory of Georgetown College, D.C., containing the description of the observatory and the description and use of the transit instrument and meridian circle" (New York, 1852).

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.