Person: Bouvard, Alexis
Alexis Bouvard was a French astronomer who did the calculations which eventually led to the discovery of Neptune.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
 Although he had little in the way of money to pay for an education, the Collège de France did offer free courses and Bouvard studied there.
 In 1794 Bouvard met Laplace who was at that time working on his great masterpiece "Méchanique céleste" Ⓣ(Celestial Mechanics).
 Laplace recognised Bouvard's computing skills and soon had him carrying out the complex calculations required for his theory.
 Realising Bouvard's potential, Laplace arranged for him to be offered a position in the important Bureau de longitudes in 1794.
 Bouvard worked there for the rest of his career earning a reputation as a careful observer as well as an able mathematician.
 As an observer Bouvard's skill is marked by the fact that he discovered eight comets, and his skill as a calculator is seen from his computation of their orbits.
 Since Uranus had an 84year period, Bouvard attempted to find further prediscovery records to improve the calculation of its orbit.
 Three of the prediscovery records were due to Pierre Lemonnier, so Bouvard went through 15 folios of his old observations in an attempt to find further sightings.
 Using all the data at his disposal, Bouvard produced a system of 77 equations but was unable to find a possible orbit for the planet from them.
 Bouvard believed this was due to another planet perturbing the orbit of Uranus but, although he asked an astronomer at the Paris Observatory to follow up the idea, nothing came of it since unfortunately for Bouvard the astronomer left soon after he made his request.
 Bouvard himself died before he could follow it up but his ideas formed the foundation of the work by Adams and Le Verrier.
 Their predicted position of a perturbing planet (later named Neptune) in 1846 led to its discovery three years after Bouvard's death.
 Cape Bouvard in Australia was named after him by French sailors when they discovered Western Australia.
Born 27 June 1767, Contamines, HauteSavoie, France. Died 7 June 1843, Paris, France.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Physics
Thank you to the contributors under CC BYSA 4.0!
 Github:

 nonGithub:
 @JJO'Connor
 @EFRobertson
References
Adapted from other CC BYSA 4.0 Sources:
 O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive