Ferdinando Messia de Prado
|Died||8 June 1810 (aged 52)|
|Institutions||University of Naples; Astronomical Observatory of Naples|
Ferdinando Messia de Prado (Naples, 3 November 1757 – Naples, 8 June 1810) was an Italian astronomer, a Olivetan Benedictine monk, professor of Astronomy at the Naples University and director of the Astronomical Observatory of Naples.
Born into a noble family of Spanish origin, in 1772 he entered the order of the Olivetans. From 1773 he lived in the monastery of San Vittore al Corpo in Milan and from 1778 until 1780 in the monastery of San Bartolomeo in Pavia. Here he was a pupil of the mathematician Gregorio Fontana, collaborating on the typographical correction of the volume Disquisitiones physico-mathematicae (1780) and holding some lectures at the University of Pavia.
In 1782 he returned to Naples in the Monastery of Monteoliveto with the position of professor of mathematics and then also of philosophy. In 1787 he was appointed professor of Astronomy and Nautics at the University of Naples. In 1788 he was called to Bologna to realize an 8-meter long sundial in the San Michele in Bosco monastery.
In 1794 he was accused of being a member of the Neapolitan Freemasons by the mathematician Annibale Giordano and in 1800 he was sentenced to exile for having supported the Neapolitan Republic of 1799. Arriving in France he taught mathematics first at Saint Germain-en-Laye and then at Périgueux.
With the arrival on the throne of Naples of Joseph Bonaparte, in 1806, he was able to return to Naples, where he was reinstated in the university chair. In 1809 he was also appointed director of the astronomical observatory set up at the former monastery of San Gaudioso. In the same year he published the Calendario dell'anno 1810 pel regno di Napoli fatto nell'Osservatorio di S. Gaudioso.
He was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna (1789), of the Académie des sciences, lettres et beaux-arts de Marseille (c. 1800) and of the Pontaniana Academy (1808). In 1810 he was appointed correspondent member in the Classes of Physical Sciences and Mathematical Sciences of the Imperiale e Reale Ateneo Italiano and honorary correspondent member of the Athénée de la langue Française.