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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, January 01, 1912, Image 6

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1912-01-01/ed-1/seq-6/

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covered two brand new comets, to
the astonishment of the world of
He is a Fellow of the Royal As
tronomical Society of England.
He has received three gold
medals from the Austrian Imper
ial Academy of Sciences at Vien
na for comet discoveries the
greatest number of gold medals
for astronomy ever held by any
He has received the Lalande
silver medal and 540 francs from
France for the niost rapid discov
ery of comets ever made.
And there are other medals and
distinguished honors for this man
who has not yet seen his 22nd
Swift is stone deaf, he can't see
a thing more than four feet away
from him and he can read only
the biggest type by the aid of a
strong magnifying glass.
"I am happy. I am content. My
hearing is dead. My sight is poor,
bat my conscience is clear and my
stomach is strong.'
And all this, mind you, for a
man who has known but twenty
one birthdays.
Pretty good record for a young
fellow, isn't it? By the time he
gets to be an old man he ought to
have laid up a pretty good stock
of honor and treasui e against the
days to come.
Well, as a matter of fact, it's
that birthday thing that's respon
sible for this story. Dr. Swift is
about to have a birthday and
he's going to celebrate it royally.
It will be his twenty-second.
Cards are out for his leap year
birthday party, wKose 'date is
February 29, 1912!
On that day, Dr. Swift will be
92 years old.
(By the way, his rediscovery of
Halley's comet was in 18j5, the
occasion of its next to the last
visit this way 75 years ago.)
Dr. Swift is one cf those unfor
tunates whose birthday comes but
once every four years and
sometimes but once everv eight.
He was born Feb. 29, 1820, at
Clarkson, Monroe county. N. Y.,
and kept having birthdays regu- .
larly between comet discoveries
up to 1896. Then the calendar
makers played a mean trick on
him. Thev made him wait till
"And that's not the worst of it,"
said Dr. Swift, in talking to me
about his birthdavs, "I'll lose an
other in 2,100." '
Dr. Swift is one of the very few
men perhaps the only astron
omer who has seen Halley's
comet twice. His discovery of
the famous wanderer was at the
age of 15, while lying on back on
roof of shed gazing at heavens
with naked eye.
Dr. Swift's mind is as active as
it was 50 years ago and his physi
cal condition is excellent except oi
for sight and hearing.
"I attribute my good health'
and old age to the fact that I nev
er touched liquor or tobacco and
that I've always drank lots of
strong coffee," Dr. Swift told me,
in reply to my written question.
"I have studied stars all my
life but feel that I know so little.
Maybe, in the next life for I be-

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