Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Photography at the Liverpool Observatory


Photography at the Liverpool Observatory

Bolton Chronicle Saturday 8th January 1842


The Corporation Liverpool having granted the site of the late Observatory, St. James’s Walk, a neat and elegant Building has been erected thereon, in which the PHOTOGRAPHIC APPARATUS, the discovery of which ranked among the greatest scientific achievements of the present age. will be in daily operation.

St James's Walk early 19th century entrance marked by red line


Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Meteor seen over Lancaster in 1902


Meteor seen over Lancaster in 1902

P. Mulligan reported on January 24th 1902 a meteor which passed a little to the east of alpha Leo (Regulus) travelling towards the south west. It crossed the Moon in its flight. The meteor lasted for 5 seconds and the streak lasted for 10 minutes.

Monday, 25 January 2021

Leeds Astronomical Society 1892



Leeds Mercury Saturday 10th December 1892

A meeting of the members of the Leeds Astronomical Society was held on Monday in the library of the philosophical Hall ark-row, for the purpose for the purpose of submitting a scheme for the future conduct of the society, and for the enrolment of members. Mr. Washington Teasdale, F.R.A.S., occupied the chair, and amongst those present were Mr. W. D. Barbour (treasurer). Mr. H. Stockwell (secretary), Mr. S Jefferson, Mr. H. J. Townshed, Mr. D. Booth, Mr. E R. Blakeley (Dewsbury), Mr. Marshall (Church Institute), Mr. Wm. Neil, and others.

At a preliminary meeting of the committee of the society was decided to invite Sir Robert Ball to become honorary President of the society, and that Mr. Washington should continue to be the acting President. —The Chairman said that they had recently held a meeting for the purpose of forming an Astronomical Society, or rather reorganising one which had formerly existed, for Mr Barbour had, fortunately, preserved the record, the Astronomical Society which was formed 1859. They were impelled to do so because had become aware that there were in Leeds a number of students of astronomy who were sending their communications to other societies which were in active existence.

Their society had only been a state of passive existence, and it was only through the Journals of these outside societies that they had become acquainted with each other as astronomical students. He then called on the secretary (Mr. Stockwell), who read a letter from the "Leeds Mercury Supplement." setting forth the objects of the promoter of the meeting. He then read the minutes of two previous meetings, these including the rules that hart been framed and agreed upon. The Chairman said that he felt certain that in a little the value of an astronomical society for Leeds would be thoroughly appreciated and that if once they got established as a working society many would join both in Leeds and the surrounding neighbourhood. They then must promote cordial co-operation with other philological societies, for the astronomer was now largely dependent upon the special knowledge of workers in other branches of science, such as the geologist. the chemist, the photographer, and so forth.—Mr. Barbour, who was treasurer of the original society, gave some account of its proceedings, mentioning that the fine telescope which was handed by the members over to the Yorkshire College. dared say they could have it back again if they asked for it- Mr David Booth, the next speaker, said he quite agreed that a distinct society for the of astronomy be formed for Leeds.

When they got well established they could consider the question joining the British Astronomical Association.—Mr. Townshend said he hoped thev should he able to regain possession of the telescope and obtain a suitable observatory.— Mr Blakeley said he wished to dispel a very prevalent idea, that in order to study astronomy one must necessarily possess a telescope. There was a great deal to study in it without making any use philosophical instruments. A very great deal could be seen with an ordinarily good opera-glass, such, for example, as the satellite’s of Jupiter. Then meteorology was a branch of astronomy. and their friend Mr. Booth, who was an eminent meteorologist, would tell them that no optical instruments were necessary in making meteorological observations.

He hoped to be able to obtain a lumber of members from the Dewsbury district. (Applause.)— Mr. Townshend mentioned that there was an astronomical society at Sheffield, and that its members had the use an observatory belonging to the Corporation of that town two days every week. In reply to Mr. Barbour, he said that members of the Leeds society could, if they so wished, have the use of that observatory.—The Chairman mid it might be interesting to know that the present Assistant Astronomer Royal, Mr. Turner, was a Leeds man. (Applause.) Mr. Turner was also the secretary of the official journal the Royal Astronomical Society. He (the Chairman) trusted they should obtain lady members. (Hear, hear.) —Mr. John Roberts, who was a member the old Leeds Astronomical Society, Mr. Brooks, and other gentlemen having spoken, the proceedings terminated. Several new members were enrolled.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Sir Robert Ball at Lancaster


Lancashire Evening Post Thursday 9th February 1899


The Palatine Hall. Lancaster, was crowded last evening, when, in connection with the Storey Institute Lecture Society, Sir Robert. Ball delivered bis lecture, “A Universe Motion.” The chair was occupied by Mr. H, L. Storey J.P. who referred to the advantages that local students possessed in the Greg Observatory.

The Lecturer observed that so faithfully were the movements of the heavenly bodies noted that if planet were late in turning up he was immediately reported to the Astronomer Royal, and an inquiry into his conduct followed. (Laughter ) Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus, Mars, always turned up at the right time but Uranus used to give the astronomers infinite trouble, laughing the calculations of the mathematicians. When he ought to have been in one place he turned up at another. But the pen of the mathematician was the profoundest instrument for revealing truth, and it was the mathematician who discovered his locale.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

More about the Greg Observatory


Lancaster Standard and County Advertiser Friday 5th January 1894


To the Editor of the Lancaster Standard

Sir. It seems to be high time that some explanation should be forthcoming to the supineness and of the Park Committee with respect to the Greg Observatory. It will be within your recollection that the committee some time since recommended the Council to hand over the Management of the astronomical portion of the Observatory to the Storey Institute —a course which would have been attended with the greatest advantages. But, at the very next council meeting the committee deliberately, and without any reasonable explication, objected to this being done. Mr. Councillor Bell might say with scathing emphasis, that a more extraordinary performance it has never been his misfortune to wintness Anything more grossly inconsistent, could hardly be imagined, than for a committee to deliberately recommend one thing, and directly afterwards stultify itself by objecting to it. It is a most unfortunate state of things. The Hon. director, whose services to the Observatory have never been either fully known or appreciated, has resigned—for reasons which are pretty well known and, except Dr. Turpin, there appears to be on one capable of succeeding him.The consequence is that the Observatory is now without a head; and this grand gift to the town, with such great capabilities for good remains practically a dead letter. The committee do, indeed, point with triumph to the fact that so many trippers have paid their pennies to see the place, and that so much money was received from them. But the Observatory was not built and equipped for trippers, but for the benefit of the town. It was intended to promote end cultivate the study of astronomy, the purest and most fascinating of all the sciences. What has been done by the committee, or what is being done, to further this end? The hon. director been alienated, and the offers of Dr Turpin have been refused. Who, then, is to give the directions and instructions for the proper conduct of the place? It with the intention of making the Observatory something more than a mere penny peepshow for trippers that the proposal to transfer the management front the committee to the Storey Institute was made. If this had been done, classes would have been formed under Dr. Turpin and Mr. Bone for the systematic study of astronomy: the observatory would have been thrown open to the public on certain specified nights, and the objects of the institution would have been carried out. But, up to the present, nothing whatever has been done this season, and the policy of masterly inactivity reigns supreme. There are no demonstrations; the plate is closed to the public during the winter evenings; the instruments are idle, and the Observatory is practically useless. Moreover, the town has been put to a considerable expense in the purchase of a valuable mean time clock a barometer, a wind gauge, a rain gauge, and a sunshine recorder. But of what use are these under the present management, rather, mismanagement The mean clock remains uncorrected, the readings of the instruments are not registered, simply because there is noose on one possessed of sufficient scientific knowledge to attend to them. The readings of these instruments ought to be published every week in the local newspapers. Of what benefit are they to the town unless this is done? The public a right to expect some benefit for the outlay which has been made: they they have a right to expect that the Observatory should be made proper use of; and I would respectfully urge the committee to bestir themselves, or to over the management of the Observatory to the Storey Institute, as the educational centre of the town.- -Yours, obediently, JUPITER.

Lancaster Standard and County Advertiser Friday 12th January 1894


To the Editor of the Lancaster Standard

Sirs,—Having taken an interest in the Greg Observatory, 1 was glad to see the letter from "Jupiter," in your last issue, drawing attention to the mismanagement of this valuable educational institution by the Park Committee. Judging from a remark by the Chairman of this committee, at the Council meeting referred to, I fear be does not understand the purpose for which the instruments were provided. The Managing Committee act as if the principal object of the institution is to attract pennies from, cheap-trippers. This being incompatible with correct astronomical work, the honorary director , resigned, and at present there is no one in charge capable of giving the necessary instruction. Last winter the honorary director gave a series of lessons on the use of the instruments and other astronomical matters, which were highly valued by a considerable number of students, who eagerly looked forward to a renewal of these studies this winter. So far, however, they have been disappointed. I would suggest that a memorial to the Town Council be prepared, asking that the astronomical part of the institution he attached to the Storey Institute, so as to be utilised in the interests of the ratepayers, , instead of being wasted at the whim Of its present custodians and their showman.-,—Yours truly, A RATEPAYER.

Lancaster Standard and County Advertiser Friday 19th January 1894


Sir —Being a lover of the science of Astronomy, it was with the greatest pleasure that I read the letter of your able correspondent "Jupiter," whose plain speaking comes most opportunely at the present juncture. This letter being immediately followed by one from "Ratepayer," leads to think that the public are getting tired of the way in which the Observatory in conducted. And, surely, it is high time we an alteration. If there be not a single member of our Corporate body who has a soul above repairing streets and cleaning sewerss, then it is their duty to place the management in the bands of some one who has and who would ptt the building to a right and legitimate use, and not degrade it in the manner in which it has been degraded of late.

We have an excellent Observatory, equipped with superb instruments; also fine " Astronomical," and "Mean Time" clocks; and in addition to these the very best Meteorological instruments. But, by the splendid system of mismanagement, which our anti-scientific Corporation are following, they are rendered practically useless. Just now, in the depth of the winter season, when almost every night the heavens are crowded with objects of the highest interest, the Observatory should have been in full work. Eager students ought to be crowding round the great " Equatorial," or standing breathless, watching the operator at the " Transit" instrument, as he recorded the exact time, to the fraction of a second, when some star crossed the meridian. But alas!, night after night darkness and silence reign in the building. Or, if by chance, a party should go up there is no one amongst them who can properly manipulate the instruments; and, if there were, the " Astronomical " clock has remained so long uncorrected, that it would be getting very difficult to set the " Equatorial" by the readings of the " Right Ascension" and " Declination " circles. I think this state of things is positively a disgrace to our town, and will lead outsiders to the belief that science is but little loved amongst us. Let our sapient Corporation get rid of the institution which seems to be of too high a nature for them. If they cannot, or will not " try " to manage it themselves., let them hand it over to somebody who can, and will, and not remain like the proverbial " dog in the manger," until everybody's patience becomes exhausted. and we grow disgusted with the exhibition of so little care for the grandest of all the sciences.—l am, yours. &c A LOVER OF ASTRONOMY.

Lancaster, Jan. 18th, 1894.  

Thursday, 21 January 2021

The Greg Observatory

 The Greg Observatory

Lancashire Evening Post Thursday 30th January 1890

The Greg Observatory —The Properties’ Committee, after receiving a report on the subject from a subcommittee, had come to the conclusion that the observatory presented the Corporation by Mr. A. Greg should be erected on site in the Williamson Park, and requested the Park Committee to consider the question and report upon it.

Lancashire Evening Post Wednesday 27th July 1892


The Greg Observatory, situated in the Williamson Park. Lancaster, was formally opened this afternoon Dr. Copeland, F.R.S.E., F.R.A.S., Astronomer Royal Scotland, after the learned gentleman had delivered address at. the Royal Grammar School. The observatory is named after the donor of the instruments, Mr. Albert Greg J.P .Caton. The instruments were those used by Mr. Greg's father in his private observatory at Escow Bank Caton and were presented to the Corporation of Lancaster about two years ago.

Lancashire Evening Post Wednesday 28th September 1892

On the consideration of the Observatory Committee, Mr Preston said already between 5,000 and 6,000 people had visited the observatory, but many complained of the terrestrial telescope.—lt was stated that this was really because the glass was too good, and less expensive one had been obtained.  

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Astronomical Lectures at Rossall School by Sir Robert Ball

 Astronomical Lectures at Rossall School by Sir Robert Ball

Blackpool Gazette & Herald Friday 7th November 1890

On Friday 31st October and Saturday 1st November evenings last Sir Robert Ball, the Astronomer Royal of Ireland, delivered two lectures at Rossall School on "Astronomy." There were large attendances, and the instructive and highly interesting discourses were greatly enhanced by numerous illustrations from a magic lantern, under the able management of Mr. B. Hainsworth. The subject of the first lecture on Friday evening was the San. At the outset Sir R. Ball alluded to the heat, size, and distance of the Sun, and its size in comparison with the other members of the Solar System, and proceeded to explain that it probably was not formed of any solid matter, but of flaming gas. The spots on the Sun were treated with, and described as holes in it’s surface, through which it was possible to see into the interior, and by means of which astronomers were able to ascertain the rotundity of the Sun. Pictures were shown illustrating total eclipses, and the stars which were to be seen close to the centre of our system, which at other times were invisible.

The second lecture dealt principally with the stars, and the lecturer explained how photography had to be adopted in discovering stars which were entirely invisible to the eyesight, aided or otherwise by the telescope. Photographs of the observatories in California and Dublin were shown, and in speaking of the vast distance of the fixed stars, which the Astronomer said were probably not single globes, but whole constellations, it was explained that the nearest one, Alpha Centauri, was twenty millions of millions of miles away from the Earth. In order to convey a clearer meaning of this vast distance to the audience, Sir R. Ball gave the following lucid illustration :—if electric telegraph wires were laid round the equator, a current would go round seven times in one second. If similar wires were laid to the Moon it would take about eight minutes, but if they were laid to the Alpha Centauri, three hundred years would elapse ere the message would reach that orb. The lectures of the eminent scientist were listened to with great attention, and were greeted with rounds of applause by the boys of the school.

Sir Robert Ball

The Headmaster, the Rev. C. C. Tancock, spoke a few words at the close and said that during the day news had been received that the Queen had granted the School a Royal charter. It would probably not make much matter to them individually, but it raised the school to a position that it had not held before. In honour of the grant. therefore, he would ask Mr Sweeting to play "God Save the Queen," and on the first fine afternoon he would give a half-holiday.