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Miers Longstreth was an astronomer, a physician, and a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Born in Philadelphia to a Quaker family, Longstreth studied French, Spanish, and Latin as a young man before leaving school to enter business in a hardware store, becoming a partial owner of the enterprise in 1840. He continued to attend lectures in anatomy and pharmacy, and when a school with an observatory was built near his home, Longstreth purchased a telescope and began studying astronomy during his leisure. In 1850, Longstreth published a formula that could be used to determine one’s longitudinal position on Earth based on the location of the Moon in the sky.
In 1853 he left business and enrolled in medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he earned his medical degree in 1856. He moved from Philadelphia to Delaware County, Pennsylvania, where he practiced medicine and joined the board of directors at Swarthmore College. Longstreth remained in Delaware County for the rest of his life, practicing as a physician and continuing his studies of astronomy and languages, as well as his work at the college.
Longstreth was elected to the American Philosophical Society at Philadelphia in 1858 and joined the National Academy of Sciences in 1863.