He was born in Havré (a small city near Mons), then in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, later in Belgium. From 1842, he worked as a voluntary assistant at the Brussels Observatory and began writing papers. He eventually became the observatory's director. He travelled a lot during his career, to Paris, the United Kingdom, United States, Mexico and Jamaica.
The scientist moved to New Orleans after being removed from the Belgian Royal Observatory for "outspoken political views". In Texas by 1858, he first worked as a surveyor, then moved to Uvalde and organized early scientific expeditions.
Later in New Orleans, when the city had been taken by Federal forces, he ran a Union newspaper, the bilingual New Orleans Tribune - La Tribune de la Nouvelle-Orléans, then for eight years lived in Jamaica. Finally, having kept his European contacts, he was reinstated as director of the Royal Observatory in Brussels.
In December 1882, however, Houzeau made a return trip to Texas. He led a scientific expedition, accompanied by Albert Benoît Lancaster and Charles Emile Stuyvaert, to San Antonio to observe a locally visible transit of Venus across the face of the sun—in those days a method of measuring time and gravity.
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His published works include
- Des turbines, de leur construction, du calcul de leur puissance et de leur application à l'industrie (On Turbines, Their Construction, Calculation of Their Power, and Their Application in Industry / Paris, L.M. Augustin, 1839) his first published work, issued when he was 19 years old;
- Atlas de toutes les étoiles visibles à l'oeil nu, formé d'après l'observation directe, dans les deux hémisphères (Atlas of All Stars Visible To the Naked Eye, Developed From Direct Observation in Two Hemispheres / Mons, Belgium, Hector Manceaux, 1878)
- Vade-mecum de l'astronome (The Astronomer's Handbook / Brussels, F. Hayez, 1882);
- Bibliographie générale de L'astronomie depuis L'origine de L'imprimerie Jusqu'en 1880 (General bibliography of Astronomy From Its First Printed Works Until 1880 / Brussels, F. Hayez, 1882–1887); and
- Règles de climatologie (Rules of Climatology /Brussels, Jamar, no date).
- Hockey, Thomas (2009). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-387-31022-0. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
- Houzeau, Jean-Charles (1862). La terreur blanche au Texas et mon évasion [The White Terror in Texas and my escape] (in French). Bruxelles: Ve Parent et Fils. pp. xi, 96. OCLC 15063714.
- Houzeau, Jean-Charles (1984) . Rankin, David C, ed. My Passage at the New Orleans Tribune. trans. Denault, Gerard F. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-8071-2689-9. OCLC 10751217.
- BELGIAN VENUS TRANSIT - Eclipse Tours
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