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Magnetic Attraction

On December 13, 1805, Johann von Lamont [John Lamont] was born in Scotland. From his twelfth year, he was educated in Bavaria where he was schooled in maths and sciences. Lamont spent vacations assisting at the Royal Observatory at Bogenhausen (Munich). These interests led to Lamont’s doctoral studies at the University of Munich and his eventual appointment as director of the observatory.

He was interested in work he’d read about Earth’s magnetic field. Lamont built himself portable equipment to calculate magnetic locations and had a magnetic observatory built with Bavarian government funding. That in place, he joined a multi-year international survey initiative to take geomagnetic readings throughout Europe. He measured Earth’s magnetic declination or variation, the angle between compass needle north and true north, and discovered the cycle in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field. He discovered that the magnetic field of the Earth fluctuates with an approximate 11-year activity cycle that, later, was shown to reflect the solar activity cycle. Lamont described his findings in Handbook of Terrestrial Magnetism.

Lamont made systematic observations of planets and their satellites. He measured positions of over 35,000 stars and recorded his results in star catalogues.

Meteorology was another of the studies of observatories of that day that also intrigued Lamont. He proposed a network of weather stations for the country and founded a meteorological association.

He received recognition for his work and several honours. One of these was a Bavarian title of nobility, indicated by the inclusion of von before his surname. At his death, von Lamont left his estate for scholarships in astronomy.

B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage