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BAA Historical section meeting - 25th November

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Just a quick heads up that the BAA Historical section have there annual meeting at the Birmingham and Midland Institute in Birmingham this Saturday (25th November)



Mark Edwards - "Astronomy in the Paintings of JMW Turner"

Mark  Edwards of Coventry and Warwickshire AS has been analyzing the paintings of JMW Turner using the astronomical clues on display. If Turner painted what he saw, we can state with confidence when they were painted, sometimes to within minutes.

Kevin Kilburn - "The Lost Gardens of Fireside"

James and George Nasmyth were pioneers in the industrial revolution, building a foundry near Eccles. Kevin presents his researches into the location of their house "Fireside" and the gardens which housed Nasmyth's telescopes, in the village of Patricroft.

Kenelm England - "Three Berkshire Astronomers"

As part of the Society for the History of Astronomy's county-based survey of astronomical history, Kenelm England of Reading AS tells us about the Berkshire astronomers he has studied:- Gideon Turner Davis, John Mackenzie Bacon and Thomas Hinsley Astbury. All three were pioneer members of the BAA.

Dr Louise Devoy - "Observatory Life"

For centuries, the Royal Observatory was the residence of successive generations of Astronomers Royal, each of whom enjoyed life at Greenwich with their wives, children, pets and servants. These domestic stories are usually eclipsed by the formal work of the Observatory, but over the past year we have refreshed the displays in Flamsteed House to show the family lives of Nevil Maskelyne (1732-1811) and George Biddell Airy (1801-1892). In this talk Louise will take you on a virtual tour of the new displays to share a selection of the key stories, objects and archive material which have brought these fascinating and often poignant stories to life. 

Dr Allan Chapman - "Sir John Herschel: Astronomer in Two Hemispheres"

We are delighted to have Dr Allan Chapman back as our keynote speaker. Allan will be talking about one of the nineteenth century's most important figures, Sir John Herschel, son of William Herschel. SIr John, one of the founding members of the Royal Astronomical Society, spent many years surveying the southern skies from South Africa.


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The Society for the History of Astronomy is opening its library, and there will also be a book sale of surplus books. I may see some of you there tomorrow.



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Great event with quality speakers.  Thanks.

It's also got me thinking that a really neat project for members of my local astronomical society would (if they want to) be to carry out would be to research Worcestershire astronomers.

Edited by michaelmorris

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4 hours ago, michaelmorris said:

It's also got me thinking that a really neat project for members of my local astronomical society would (if they want to) be to carry out would be to research Worcestershire astronomers.

Can anyone suggest where we could point member's to to start them off with their research?

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It was good to meet you on Saturday in the SHA Library.

With regards starting out doing research of local past amateur astronomers there are lots of ways to start this. Here are some ideas.

  • Take a look at the SHA website and go to the Survey tab and look at existing entries for the county. There may be entries there your members can add more information to, or existing names known to you which are not yet listed there: https://societyforthehistoryofastronomy.com/
  • Most county library archives now have an online search tool; search for the terms astronomy, astronomer, telescope, observatory, astronomical, moon, lunar, eclipse, meteor, binoculars etc.
  • Libraries themselves may have material too which isn't yet in the archives; again online searches or go into the library and look up similar terms.
  • The English Mechanic is a great source of information, local libraries may have copies for you to search.
  • Local newspapers; are any of these digitised?
  • Ask the members and contact any much older members of the society who may no longer come to meetings - the older generation may well have valuable information.
  • Ancestry and Genes Reunited can be searched for occupations like astronomer, scientist etc.
  • Speak to a local newspaper and see if they will run an article on the topic; again readers may have information and contact you.
  • Are there any museums locally; contact them as they may have equipment or books which were left to them which could initiate an avenue to explore.
  • Search old journals (MNRAS, BAA Journal etc) for Worcester / Worcestershire etc.
  • Search the SA/NASA site: http://ukads.nottingham.ac.uk/
  • If you can search church records, look for graves which may have the term astronomer.
  • There is a good article by Mike Frost in the JBAA - BAA members will be able to access the full document: https://www.britastro.org/journal_item/2777
  • Another good article by Roger Jones from the SHA: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/2006AntAs...3...69J
  • The SHA is holding a research workshop in Feb 2018 in Birmingham; info about this can be found on page 5 of this edition of e-News: https://societyforthehistoryofastronomy.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/sha-enews-2017-04.pdf
  • And join the Society for the History of Astronomy; it's £20 a year or £15 for concessions: https://societyforthehistoryofastronomy.com/join/


Just some ideas to get you going.



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