Newcomb, Simon (1835–1909)
Astronomer, mathematician, and first president (1885–86)
of the American Society for Psychical Research. He was born
on March 12, 1835, at Wallace, Nova Scotia. He studied at Lawrence
Scientific School (B.S., 1858), and Harvard University.
He joined the U.S. Navy during the Civil War as a professor of
mathematics (1861), and was later assigned to the U.S. Naval
Observatory (1867). He subsequently became the director of
the American Nautical Almanac (1877–97) and a professor of
mathematics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University
(1884–94). A world-famous astronomer and mathematician,
Newcomb’s research made possible the construction of accurate
lunar tables. In spite of his interest in psychical research,
he remained an outspoken skeptic, a position he explained in
his autobiography. He died July 11, 1909.
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Hyslop, James H. ‘‘Professor Newcomb and Occultism.’’
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 5 (1909).
Newcomb, Simon. Reminiscences of an Astronomer. Boston
Houghton, Mifflin, 1903.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.