Outhier, Réginald

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(b. La Marre-Jouserans, near Poligny, France, 16 August 1694; d. Bayeux France, 12 April 1774),

astronmy, cartography

Outhier, for many years canon of the cathedral of Bayeux, was one of the many provincial amateur scientists who supplied the academicians in Paris with somewhat raw observations, which they, in turn, used in order to support their more general theories and treaties. His scientific observations covered astronomy, meteorglogy, and cartography, both terrestrial and celestial.

Outhier’s sicentific communications began in 1727 when he presented a celestial globe of his own invention to the Académie Royale des Sciences. In addition to the positions of the stars, this globe moved by clockwork, indicated the apparent path of the sun along the ecliptic and various motions of the moon. On 1. December 1731 Outhier was named correspondent of Jacques Cassini and, twenty-five years later, correspondent of Cassini de Thury.

In preparation for an exact map of France, cassini in 1733 drew a line perpendiculat to the meridian of Paris westward from Paris to the sea. Outhier, then secretary to paul d’ Albert de Luynes, the very scientific bishop of Bayeux, jointed the surveying party from Caen to St.-Malo. After the triangulation was accomplished, the part went to Bayeux to make some celestial observations. Cassini was impressed by the large sundial with lines at five-minute intervals that Outhier had traced on the cathedral library. Around this time Outhier drew a map of the diocese of Bayeux, published in 1736, and others of the bishopic of Meaux and of the arch boshhopic of Sens.

In 1736–1737 the Academy sponsored an expedition to Lapland to measure the length of a degree of latitude near the North Pole, in order to determine the actual figure of the earth; and Outhier, “dont la capacité dans l’Ouvrage que nous allions faire, etoit connuë…” (Maupertuis, La Figure de la terre, P. xv), was invited to participate. He assisted in the astronomical observations, drew eighteen maps of the lands through which they passed, and studied the religious and social customs of the Lapps. His detailed journal of the voyage was published in 1744.

In 1752 Outhier drew, and presented to the Academy, a map of the Pleidades that was by far the most accurate map of the region. It included ninety nine stars of the third through the tenth magnitudes, thirty-five of which had been measured by Le Monnier; coordinates were given for every ten minutes of celestial latitude and longitude and every twenty minutes of right ascension and declination. Other reports to the Academy concerned the weather at Bayeux, the transit of Venus of 1761, six lunar eclipses, and two solar eclipses.


I. Original Works. Outhier’s account of his journey to Lapland is Journal d’un voyage au nord, en 1736 et 1737 (Paris, 1744; repub. Amsterdam, 1746), English trans, in John Pinkerton, ed., A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels, I (London, 1808), 259–336. Two of his maps appeared as Carte topographique du diocèse de Bayeux, divisé en ses quatre archidiaconés et ses dix sept doyenes… par l’Abbé Outhier, 2 sheets (1736); and Cartes de l’évéche de Meaux et de l’architécé de Sens

His earlier articles include “Globe mouvant inventé par M. l’Abbé Outhier, prestre,” in Machines et inventions approuvées par l’Académie royale des sciences, V(Paris, 1735), 15–17; “Le mesme globe perfectionné et presenté en MDCCXXXI,” ibid., pp. 19–20; “Addition au globe mouvant, par M. l’Abbé Outhier,” ibid., 21–22; “Observations de l’éclipse de Jupiter &de ses satellites par la lune, faites à Sommervieux près de Bayeux par M. l’Évéque de Bayeux le 17 juin 1744, par M. Cassini,” in Memoires de l’Académie royale des sciences… (1744), 415–416; “Extrait des observations de l’eclipse de lune, faites à Bayeux le 2 novembre 1743 au matin, &communiquées a l’Académie, par M. le Monnier fils,” ibid. (1745), 511; “Observation de l’éclipse du soleil, du 25 juillet 1748, faite à Bayeux par M. l’ Abbé Outhier, “in Mémoires… présentés par divers scavans, 2 (1755), 307–308; “Observation de l’éclipse de lune, du 8 août 1748, faite à Bayeux, dans l’évêché par M. l’Abbé Outhier,” ibid., pp. 309–310; “Observation de (l‘éclipse de lune, du 23 décembre 1749, faite à Bayeux, par M. l‘Abbé Outhier, correspondent de l’Académie,” ibid., pp. 311–312 “Observation de l’eclipse du soleil du 8 janvier 1750, faite a Bayeux, par M. l’Abbé Outhier,” ibid., pp. 313–314; “Sur une nouvelle quadrature par approximation, par M. l’Abbe Outhier …,” ibid., p. 333; and “Cartes des Pléyades …,” ibid, pp. 607–608 and pl. XXV; “Observations métérologiques faites a Bayeux en 1756,” ibid,. 4 (1763), 612–613; “Autre observation du passage de Vénus, faite à Bayeux le 6 juin 1761, avec une lunette de 34 pouces garnis d’un micromètre dont chaque tour de vis est divisé en 42 parties,” ibid., 6 (1764), 133–134; “Observation de l’éclipse de lune faite à Bayeux le 18 mai 1761,” ibid., p. 134; and “Observation de l’eclipse de lune, du 8 mai 1762, au matin, faite à Bayeux,” ibid., p. 176.

II. Secondary Literature See C. F. Cassini de Thury, “De la carte de la France et de la perpendiculaire à la méridienne de Paris,” in Mémoires de l’ Academie royale des sciences… (1733), 389–405; H. F., “Outhier (Réginald ou Regnauld),” in Nouvelle biographie geénérale XXXVIII (Paris, 1864), cols. 982–983; and P. Maupertuis, La figure de la terre (Paris, 1738).

Deborah Jean Warner