Set of magnets (variously sized from 3" x 3" to 2.5"x4") feature American astronomer John Brashear (1840-1920) and a few of the instruments he created. Pictured:
John Alfred Brashear (1840-1920) was a self educated astronomer from Pittsburgh for whom craters on Mars and the moon have been named, as well as an asteroid, and who earned a permanent place in science history.
Brashear was the oldest of seven children born to a saddler and school teacher in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. His formal education was limited to elementary school and when other boys were entering high school, he was a machinist apprentice.
By 1866, Brashear had married and was working as a mechanic in a Pittsburgh rolling mill, studying math and physics when time allowed. His wife shared his hobby and helped build his first telescope (that was eventually donated to the Allegheny Observatory at the University of Pittsburgh).
A 1911 article in McClure's Magazine described the pair as spending three years grinding the first 5-inch lens, only to see it break during silvering. The Brashears persevered. The lens was completed and in the process he became adept at re-silvering, a skill that brought him to the attention of Dr. Samuel Pierpont Langley, director of the Allegheny Observatory.
Langley encouraged Brashear to build a workshop in which to do projects for the Observatory, and a patron, William Thaw, financed the project. After 21 years, Brashear was freed from toiling at the steel mill and could work full time on scientific invention. By 1887 that workshop became the John Brashear manufacturing company.
In addition to research and invention, Brashear contributed to the development of the University of Pennsylvania, serving as director of the Allegheny Observatory, university chancellor (1901-1904) and trustee.
In 1988 the university published A man who loved the stars: the autobiography of John A. Brashear and in 1940 John Alfred Brashear, scientist and humanitarian. I found several copies of both books on Amazon.
Nicknamed Uncle John, he was beloved in Pittsburgh and in 1915 named by the governor as the most eminent citizen of the state. His 75th birthday party was attended by many prominent citizens, including Alexander Graham Bell, and elicited 30,000 birthday cards. His ashes are entombed beneath the Keeler telescope at the Allegheny Observatory.
Brashear was a competitor of Alvan Clark.