Richard Anthony Proctor, an English astronomer, born in Chelsea, March 23, 1837. He was educated at home until his 11th year, and then entered an academy in Milton-on-Thames, where he remained three years and became head boy of the institution. After the death of his father in 1850 the family became embarrassed through chancery delays in a friendly suit, and in 1854 Richard accepted a clerkship in a London bank, devoting all his spare time to the study of mathematics. In 1855, the situation of the family having been improved, he entered King's college, London, and in 1856 St. John's college, Cambridge. He took his degree in 1860, and married in the same year. For the next three years his studies were mostly historical and literary. In 1863 he wrote an essay on "Double Stars," which appeared in the "Cornhill Magazine." In 1865 he published a monogram on "Saturn," and early in 1866 his "Gnomonic Star Atlas" and "Handbook of the Stars." These works were of a scientific, but not popular nature. In 1866, by the failure of a bank in London, he lost the whole of his fortune, and his scientific work was considerably hampered by duties arising from this circumstance.
In 1869 he made some suggestions to the astronomer royal, Sir George Airy, as to the best method of observing the approaching transit of Venus; and at a meeting of the principal astronomers of England at the Greenwich observatory in 1873 his views were unanimously approved. But his chief scientific work since 1867 has consisted in the investigation of the evidence available for determining the structure of the stellar and nebular universe. (See Star.) In 1870 Mr. Proctor published a work entitled "Other Worlds than Ours," which had an extraordinary success and attracted the general attention of the scientific world. From that time he has been perhaps the most fertile and popular writer upon astronomical subjects of the present day. In 1873 he visited the United States and delivered lectures, and again in 1875. His published books besides those above mentioned are: "Constellation Seasons" and "Sun Views of the Earth" (London, 1867); "Half Hours with the Telescope" (1868); "Half Hours with the Stars" (1869); "The Sun," a large "Star Atlas," "Elementary Astronomy," and "Light Science for Leisure Hours" (1870); "Essays on Astronomy" and "Orbs Around Us" (1871); "Chart of 324,000 Stars," "School Atlas of Astronomy," and "Elementary Physical Geography" (1872); "Light Science," etc, second series, "The Moon," and "Border Land of Science " (1873); and "The Universe and Coming Transits," "Transits of Venus, Past, Present, and Future," and "The Expanse of Heaven " (1874).