Society for the History of Astronomy

shedding light on the history of astronomy

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

COUNTY SURVEY 

SHA County Co-ordinator:  Mark Hurn 

 

The Society would be delighted to hear from anyone with more information about this county's links with astronomy. Can you add anything to the names of the people and places listed below? Please contact me if you have anything to add, however small.

    

Email:  hurnm@ast.cam.ac.uk

 

No of SHA Members resident in this County  …7

Astronomers

John Couch Adams (1819-1892) predicted existence of planet Neptune independently of Le Verrier.   Director of the Cambridge  Observatory (1861-1892)


Sir George Biddell Airy (1801-1892) Plumian Professor 1828-1836, Director of the Cambridge Observatory 1828-1835, Astronomer Royal 1835-1881


Lt. Andrew Doughty Baldrey (1785-1843) naval officer, first Senior Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory from 1829, died at the Observatory 1843.

 

Sir Robert Stawell Ball (1840-1913) author of popular books on astronomy, Director of the Cambridge Observatory  1892-1913


Frank E. Baxandall  (1869?-1929)  worked with Norman Lockyer on stellar spectra, moved to Cambridge with the Solar Physics Observatory where he was Senior Assistant Observer from 1913-1929


Miss Julia Bell  (1879-1979)  Of Girton College, Computer at the Cambridge Observatory 1902-7, went on to a successful career in genetics


H. J. Bellamy  (??)  Assistant to Mr Newall 1902-5, left to work at the Royal Naval College, Osborne


A.G. Berry (??) Senior Assistant at the
Cambridge Observatory 1843-1846

 

Donald E. Blackwell  (1921-2010)  Graduate of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.  Assistant Director of Solar Physics Observatory, Cambridge 1949-1960.  Savilian Professor, Oxford 1960-1988.  Obit. A&G 52(3) (2011) p.37-38.

 

S.E. Bowd (??)  Computer at the Cambridge Observatory 1906-10


Arthur H.L. Bowden (1839-1923) Junior Assistant at
Cambridge Observatory 1857-1858, Senior Assistant 1858-1863


James Breen (1826-1866) Senior Assistant Observer at the
Cambridge Observatory 1846-1858


Hermann Alexander Bruck (1905-2000) John Couch
Adams Astronomer 1943-1946

 

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943-) discovered first Pulsar (1967)


Charles Pritchard Butler  (1871-1952)  Career in Solar Physics Observatory as Senior Assistant Observer 1889-1937, also a Director of BAA Solar Section


Hugh Ernest Butler  (1916-1978)  Emmanuel College, Senior Assistant Solar Physics Observatory/Combined Observatories 1946-8, main career at Edinburgh


A.D. Campbell  (??)  Computer at the Cambridge Observatory 1905-11


Sir John Anthony Carroll K.B.E.  (1899-1974)  Assistant Director of the Solar Physics Observatory 1925-1930, later career as an Admiralty scientist, Gresham Professor of Astronomy (1964)

 

Thomas Catton  (bapt. 1758 died 1838)   operated an observatory at St. Johns College (1791-1832) see ODNB.

 

Rev. James Challis (1803-1882) responsible for the British hunt for Neptune, Plumian Professor: 1836-1882 and Cambridge Observatory Director  1836-1861

 

T. Christy (??)  Junior Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory 1858-60


Bryan Cookson  (1874-1909)  grandson of R.S. Newall, Assistant in Astrophysics at the Cambridge Observatory 1906-9 


Roger Cotes (1682-1716) Plumian Professor: 1707-1716, helped Newton with the second edition of Principia.


George Stickland Criswick (1836-1916) most of career at Greenwich, but was Junior Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory 1854-55

 

Charles Arthur Cross  (1922-1980)  Cambridge graduate, amateur astronomer, mapped Moon and Mars, Cross Crater on Mars is named after him

 

Sir George Howard Darwin (1845-1912) Plumian Professor:  1883-1912, author on the tides


J.C. Dobbie  (??)  Senior Assistant Observer at the Solar Physics Observatory 1937-45

 
Richard Dunthorne (1711-1775) established observatory at
St. Johns College
in 1765, expert on Moon motions


Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944) Plumian Professor:  1913-1944, provided evidence for Relativity in 1919 eclipse expedition, popularizer of Relativity.  Director of the Cambridge Observatory  1914-1944

 

Richard Salisbury Ellis (1950-) Plumian Professor 1995-1999


Frederick Entwistle (1896?-1917)  Junior Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory 1914-17.  Killed in action as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Bn. Norfolk Regiment 9 October 1917, he is burried at the Hooge Crater Cemetery, Belgium


Miss Gibb  (??)  Computer at the Cambridge Observatory 1902-3

James Glaisher (1809-1903) Junior Assistant Observer at the Cambridge Observatory 1833-1835, later meteorologist at Greenwich, FRS and pioneer balloonist


John Glaisher (1819-1846) Junior Assistant Observer at the Cambridge Observatory 1836-1844


A. W. Goatcher (?? active 1892-1910) Assistant to Mr Newall at the Cambridge Observatory 1892-1902, Established Computer at the Royal Observatory the Cape 1902-7, member 'GOK' of the BAA VSS

Andrew Graham (1815-1908) Senior Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory 1864-1903


Henry Ernest Green (1889-1944)  Junior Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory 1918-44


Miss Hardy  (??)  Computer at Cambridge Observatory 1876-79/80


William Ernest Hartley (1877-1917) Junior Assistant at the
Cambridge Observatory 1903-1913, Senior Assistant 1913-1917.  Died on H.M.S. Vanguard when the vessel exploded at anchor 9 July 1917, he was serving as a Naval Instructor, he is recorded on the Chatham Naval Memorial

 

Stephen Hawking (1942-) theoretical physicist and popular writer

 

Anthony Hewish (1924-) developed aperture synthesis at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (1974 Nobel Prize winner)


Arthur Robert Hinks (1873-1945) Junior Assistant at the
Cambridge Observatory 1896-1903, Senior Assistant 1903-1913.

 

Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) Plumian Professor: 1958-1972, developed nucleosynthesis theory in astrophysics, opposed big-bang theory in cosmology, wrote science fiction, founder of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy, Cambridge.

 

Sir Harold Jeffreys (1891-1989) Plumian Professor: 1946-1958, geophysicist


Robert C. Kennicutt Jr. (1951-) Plumian Professor: 2005-

 

Harald von Kluber  (1901-1978)  Assistant Observer, Solar Physics Observatory 1949-60,  Assistant Director Solar Physics Observatory 1960-68 (continued to work at Malta outstation until 1971).  See Obituary in QJRAS 20 (1979) 472-5.

 

Roger Long (1680-1770) first Lowdean Professor of astronomy, created a planetarium sphere ‘the Uranium’ at Pembroke which existed from 1758-1871.


William Thynne Lynn (1835-1911) most of career at Greenwich but, Junior Assistant at Cambridge Observatory 1855-56.


Miss Anne D. Malden  (??)  Of Newnham College, Computer at the Cambridge Observatory 1903-4


William Henry Manning (1883-1952)  Assistant to Mr Newall 1905-13, Assistant at Solar Physics Observatory 1913-46.  Joint author with Stratton of 'Atlas of Spectra of Nova Herculis 1934' (Cambridge 1939).  He was married to the Labour M.P. and teachers union leader, Dame Leah Manning (who lived 1886-1977).  They lived in the S.P.O. house from when it was new in 1913 (see L. Manning 'A Life for Education' London, 1970)

 

Brian Geoffrey Marsden (1937-2010) born in Cambridge, educated in Oxford and Yale, career in USA, Director (1968-2000) of IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT), discovered group of comets the "Marsden Group". Director (1978-2006) of IAU Minor Planet Center (MPC).

 

Revd. John Michell  (1724/5-1793)  Fellow, Queens' College 1749-64, Rector St. Botoloph's Cambridge 1762-63, Woodwardian Professor of Geology 1762-67, also telescope maker, observer, binary star and black hole theorist, pioneer geophysicist etc

 

Edward Arthur Milne M.B.E.  (1896-1950)  Assistant Director of the Solar Physics Observatory 1920-1924, he went on to become a major figure in relativity and cosmology.  Gold Medal of the R.A.S. 1935

John Holdsworth Morgan (1825-1908) Junior Assistant, Cambridge Observatory 1844-47. FRAS 1879-1906.  Career in Church of England.  Died in Bethlem Hospital.


P. Morris (??)  Junior Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory 1893-96


Walter Moss  (1878-1958)  joined Solar Physics Observatory in 1902, served as Senior Assistant Observer 1929-45


Hugh Frank Newall
(1857-1944) Newall Observer 1891-1904, Assistant Director of
Cambridge Observatory 1904-1913, Director of Solar Physics Observatory 1913-1928, a son of R.S. Newall he lived at Madingley Rise and operated the Newall Telescope

 

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) developed laws of motion and gravity, author of Principia (1687)

 

Jeremiah Ostriker (1937-) Plumian Professor: 2001-2004, astrophysicist


D. Parker  (??)  Assistant to Mr Newall 1891-92


E.T. Pierce (??)  Junior Assistant S.P.O./Combined Observatories 1945-6


John Isaac Plummer (1845-1925)  Computer at the Cambridge Observatory 1859?-December 1863.


Roderick Oliver Redman  (1905-1975)  Assistant Director Solar Physics Observatory 1931-37, later Director of the Combined Observatories 1947-1972, FRS (1946) President of the RAS (1959-61)

 

Lord Martin Rees of Ludlow O.M. (1942-) Plumian Professor: 1973-1991, Astronomer Royal 1995-


E. Roberts  (??)  Computer at the Cambridge Observatory (1879-80)


William Edward Rolston  (1876-1921)  Computer at S.P.O. from 1901-1913, First Junior Observer from 1913-21, although period 1915-21 on military service

 

Sir Martin Ryle (1918-1984) Astronomer Royal 1972-82 (1974 Nobel Prize winner)


Canon William Selwyn (1806-1875) Canon of Ely Cathedral, took with John Titterton, photographs of the solar disc 1863-74


Rev. Richard Sheepshanks  (1794-1855)  Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Secretary of the RAS, FRS (1830) benefactor to astronomy.  His elder sister, Anne Sheepshanks  (1789-1876)  was a  generous donor to the Cambridge, and many other observatories (see ODNB)

 

Anthony Shepherd (1721-1796) Plumian Professor: 1760-1796, published astronomical tables, a friend of Captain Cook


Noel Bryan Slater  (1912-1973)  Junior Assistant Observer, S.P.O. 1939-46.  Later Professor of Applied Mathematics at Hull, worked on Eddingtons theories. (See QJRAS v. 17 pp.65, 1974)


William Marshall Smart (1889-1975)  Senior Assistant, Cambridge Observatory 1919-1937, John Couch Adams Astronomer 1921-1937, author of 'Spherical Astronomy' (1931), later Regius Professor of Astronomy at Glasgow 1937-1959


John Smith (?1711-1795) second Lowndean Professor, set up a transit telescope at Gonville and Caius (1764).


Robert Smith (1689-1768) Plumian Professor: 1716-1760, established an observatory at Trinity College Gateway


Leonard John Stanley  (1888-?)  Assistant to Mr Newall 1906-13, Assistant Solar Physics Observatory 1913-46, Assistant Combined Observatories 1946-53


Frederick John Marrian Stratton D.S.O.  (1881-1960)  Assistant in Astrophysics 1909-13, Assistant Director of SPO 1913-19, Director of SPO 1919-46, Director of the combined Observatories 1946-7.  Author of 'The History of the Cambridge Observatories' (1949)


John Swan (?1605-1671) clergyman, author of 'Speculum mundi' (1635)


Henry Taylor (??)  Junior Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory 1856-57


Andrew David Thackeray  (1910-1978)  educated at Eton and Kings College Cambridge, Assistant Director of Solar Physics Observatory 1937-1948, worked at Radcliffe Observatory, Pretoria 1948-74


John Titterton (1830?-1914) Photographer of Ely, took with Canon William Selwyn, photographs of the solar disc 1863-74


Sir Charles Todd (1826-1910) as Junior Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory 1847-54 he used the Northumberland Telescope to take a daguerreotype photograph of the Moon.  He was later responsible for setting up the telegraph network in Australia.


Henry David Todd (??)  Computer at the Cambridge Observatory 1859-60 and then  Junior Assistant 1860-90, brother of  Charles Todd

 

Samuel Vince (1749-1821) Plumian Professor: 1796-1821, published ‘A Complete System of Astronomy’ (1808)


Miss Anne Walker  (1864-?)  Computer at the Cambridge Observatory 1879-1903, she carried out the duties of an Observer, see ODNB article for Andrew Graham


Evan Gwyn Williams  (1905-1940)  Graduate of Trinity College, Junior Assistant Observer at S.P.O. 1936-7


Charles Thomson Rees Wilson  (1869-1959)  was an Observer in Meteorological Physics at the Solar Physics Observatory 1913-26, awarded Nobel Prize for Physics 1927 for invention of the cloud chamber

 

Robert Woodhouse (1773-1827) Plumian Professor: 1822-1827, first Director of the Cambridge Observatory 1824-1827

Sir Richard van der Riet Woolley (1906-1986)  Senior Assistant and JCA Astronomer at Cambridge Observatory 1937-1939, later Astronomer Royal 1956-1971

Thomas Wilson Wormell  (1903-1985)  Observer in Meteorological Physics at Solar Physics Observatory 1926-46

T. Wright  (??)  Computer at the Cambridge Observatory 1875-81

G. G. Yates  (??)  Senior Assistant Observer, Solar Physics/Combined Observatories 1946-56


Observatories (historical)

In Cambridge


Trinity
College
(1739-1797)  (also possibly earlier in 1705 see University/D.XII.22)

Pembroke College (fl.1752)

Gonville and Caius College (fl. 1764)

St. Johns College (1765-1832)

 

Cambridge: Madingley Road site

The Solar Physics Observatory (SPO) 1913-1946

 

The Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) had its administrative headquarters and workshops in Cambridge from 1990-1998.


Ely


Canon Selwyn's solar observatory ('The College' Ely, exact location not known) active 1863-74

Observatories (active)

 

 

Institute of Astronomy

(the Cambridge Observatory est.1823)
Madingley Road
Cambridge
CB3 0HA

Tel. 01223 37548

Cambridge Astronomy

The Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory

 

The Ryle Telescope (RT).
The Cosmic Anisotropy Telescope (CAT).
The Cambridge Low-Frequency Synthesis Telescope (CLFST).
The Very Small Array (VSA).

 

Authors, Lecturers, broadcasters

Arthur Berry O.B.E.  (1862?-1929)  Vice-Provost of King's College, Cambridge, FRAS and author of 'A Short History of Astronomy' (1898). Obituary MNRAS 90 (1930) p. 358

Publishers

Cambridge University Press

Museums

Please note this section contains only museums likely to be of relevance to astronomy or science

 

Fitzwilliam Museum

(A major museum and art gallery)

 

Whipple Museum of the History of Science

(Based on the collection of Robert Stewart Whipple (1871-1953) a collection of scientific instruments including telescopes and astrolabes)

Bibliography

Obituary: F.E. Baxandall, The Observatory Vol. 53 (1930) pp. 23-24


Obituary: C.P. Butler, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 113 (1953) p. 294


Obituary: H.E. Butler, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 20 (1979) pp 221-222


Obituary: J.A. Carroll, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 16 (1975) pp. 100-103


Obituary: Bryan Cookson, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 70 (1910) 297-298


J. Edelston: 'Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes',
London: Frank Cass, 1969


Obituary: George Stickland Criswick, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 77 (1917) pp. 293-295


Obituary: James Glaisher, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 64 (1904) pp. 280-287


Obituary: John Glaisher, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 7 (1847) pp. 198-199


R. Gowing: '
Roger Cotes - natural philosopher', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.


Obituary: Henry Ernest Green,  Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 105 (1945) pp. 90-91


R.T. Gunther: 'Early science in
Cambridge', Oxford University Press, 1937 (1957)


H.M. Harrison: 'Voyager in time and space: the life of John Couch Adams,
Cambridge astronomer', Lewes: The Book Guild, 1994


W.T. Lynn: 'Richard Dunthorne', The Observatory Vol. 28 (1905) p.215-6


Obituary: William Thynne Lynn, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 72 (1912) pp.249-251


Obituary: William Thynne Lynn, The Observatory Vol. 35 (1912) pp. 47-49


Obituary: E.A. Milne, The Observatory Vol. 70 (1950) pp. 225-232


Obituary: Rev. John Holdsworth Morgan, Journal of the BAA Vol. 18 (1908) p.213


Obituary: Walter Moss,  Monthly Notices of Royal Astronomical Society  Vol. 119 (1959) pp. 348-349


Obituary: R.O. Redman,  Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 17 (1976) pp. 80-86


Obituary: R.O. Redman,  Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society Vol. 22 (1976) pp. 335-357


Obituary: W. E. Rolston, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 82 (1922) pp. 253-254


Obituary: Canon William Selwyn, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 36 (1875) pp.145-8


Obituary:  N.B. Slater, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 15 (1974) pp. 65-67

 

F.J.M. Stratton: 'Dr John Smith', The Observatory Vol. 34 (1911) p.449


F.J.M. Stratton: 'The History of the
Cambridge Observatories', Annals of the Solar Physics Observatory, Cambridge Vol. 1 (1949)


Obituary: F.J.M. Stratton, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 7 (1961) pp. 281-293


Obituary: A.D. Thackeray, Nature Vol. 274 (1978) pp. 100-101


Obituary: Sir Charles Todd, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 71 (1911) pp.272-275


Obituary: E.G. Williams, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 101 (1941) pp.141-142

 

Telescope / equipment manufacturers

Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company

(founded by Horace Darwin in 1881)

Useful addresses

Institute of Astronomy Library

Madingley Road

Cambridge

CB3 0HA

Tel. 01223 337537

www.ast.cam.ac.uk/library/

 

 

Local History Societies

 

Cambridgeshire Association for Local History

Secretary: Mr Andrew Westwood-Bate

PO Box 1112

Blasham, Cambridge

CB21 4WP

info@calh.org.uk


http://www.calh.org.uk


Cambridgeshire Family History Society

www.cfhs.org.uk

 

County Record Office 

 

Cambridgeshire County Record Office, Cambridge

Shire Hall 

Cambridge

CB3 0AP 

Tel 01223 717281

http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk

 

For full details go to      ARCHON Directory