John Goodricke
John Goodricke was born on September 17, 1764.  He was born in Groningen, the Netherlands. He had a high fever when he was a baby.  This caused him to be deaf.  Mr. Goodricke went to a school for the deaf called Braidwood Academy when he was a boy.  He then went to the Warrington Academy.  He was very good at math and science in school.

Braidwood Academy

Picture Courtesy of the Open University

Warrington Academy
Picture Courtesy of the Unitarian Historical Society

As a young man Mr .Goodricke was very interested in studying stars.  His neighbor Mr. Pigott was also interested in stars.  They decided to work together and were good friends.  
One week Mr. Goodricke was studying a star named Algol.  He watched the star each night.  He noticed that the star's brightness changed during the week.  He thought Algol was a variable star.  He told Mr. Pigott.  They were both very excited.  After they studied the star more, they decided that they should tell the Astronomer Royal.  He also discovered that Algol was a binary star.

Photo Courtesy of

Godfrey Copley Medal

Picture Courtesy of The Royal Society

Other astronomers were very impressed with his work.  He wrote many letters and articles that were published in astronomy journals and books.  When he was nineteen years old Mr. Goodricke was given the Godfrey Copley Medal from the Royal Society for his discoveries.  After discovering several more he was chosen as a Fellow in the Royal Society.  He was only 21 years old.  This was the biggest honor an astronomer could get.

Just a few weeks later he got sick because he stayed outside in the cold too much watching stars.  He died on April 20, 1786. 

Web Links


Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). John Goodricke.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences
(pp.150-155). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.