Astronomer: Rutland

(Note: This includes individuals who have made contributions in related fields, e.g. mathematics, geography, exploration, cartography, surveying)

Barker, Thomas (1722-1809), meteorologist and astronomer, wrote An Account of the Discoveries Concerning Comets (1757). However, he was more famous as a meteorologist and in his journals he recorded the weather at Lyndon Hall for over 60 years, including barometric pressure, temperature, clouds, wind and rainfall (see Mayhew article at the Lyndon Estate). He was a grandson of William Whiston (1667-1752), natural philosopher and theologian (Kingston 1988; (ODNB).

Robert Billingsley, a Rutland neighbour of Vincent Wing (1619 – 1668), he contributed astronomical observations, which were included in Wing’s Harmonicon coeleste (see Vincent Wing [1619-68] ODNB).

‘The Wing Dynasty’ was a remarkable family of astronomers, astrologers, instrument makers and land surveyors spanning some 6 generations (see Vincent Wing [1619-68] ODNB; Twickenham Museum). The principal members of the Wing family with astronomical interests were, in chronological order:

Wing, Vincent (1587 ?), a small farmer in North Luffenham, Rutland [Galileo Project], he also had an interest in astronomy. This included astronomical observations in 1621 and it may have been his interest in astronomy that kindled his son’s interest (see Vincent Wing [1619-68] ODNB).

Wing, Vincent (1619-1668), astronomer, astrologer and land surveyor, was born in North Luffenham and was the eldest son of Vincent Wing (1587 – 1660) [Clerke]. His fame was based on his achievements in astronomy, especially as a champion of the new astronomical systems of Copernicus and Tycho Brahe.  With the mathematician William Leybourn, he wrote Urania practica, or, Practical Astronomie, which was published in 1649. It included a description of the planetary system as devised by Tycho Brahe; this was probably Tycho Brahe’s model in which the planets other than the Earth orbited the Sun and this system as a whole orbited the Earth.

Wing then wrote Harmonicon coeleste, the first significant treatise on planetary astronomy since the Copernican revolution, which was published in 1651. It reflects his conversion to Copernicanism and Keplerian astronomy [Columbia University]. It included an explanation of the application of logarithms to astronomical problems and a description of the Copernican model of the solar system. There were tables based on observations by Tycho Brahe and Kepler, supplemented by Wing’s own observations, together with observations by William Leybourn and Robert Billingsley (see above). Wing’s Harmonicon coeleste has been cited as one of the books, which influenced Newton’s ideas on astronomy as presented in the third book of Principia (1687) [Columbia University].

In 1669, shortly after his death, Wing’s most important work was published, Astronomia Britannia, which was a large-scale Latin treatise on the size, distance and motions of the planets in accordance with the Copernican model. The most significant English astronomical work of its time, it had considerable impact at home and abroad. Wing also published Ephemerides; John Flamsteed regarded them as the best in print (ODNB).

Wing, John (bap. 1662-d.1726), see Authors, lecturers, broadcasters .

Wing, John (c.1673-1715), see Telescope/equipment manufacturers.

Wing,Tycho (1696-1750), see Authors, lecturers, broadcasters.

Wing,Tycho (1726-1776), see Telescope/equipment manufacturers.

Wing,Tycho (1794-1851), land surveyor, grandson of John Wing (1723-1780), whom he succeeded as agent at the Duke of Bedford’s estates at Thorney, Cambridgeshire. He became known as ‘King of the Fens’ . and he surveyed the River Nene outfall and surrounding marshes, sometimes with John Rennie and Thomas Telford. The mouth of the River of Nene is known as Tycho Wing’s Channel and the land on the East side of the river is known as Central Wingland or Wingfield (see Vincent Wing [1619-68] ODNB; Twickenham Museum).