Astronomers: Cheshire

Ball, Leslie (1911-1992) FRAS of ‘Auriga’, 27 Parkbrook Road, Northenden, Cheshire. A civil servant, he started with a 16cm Calver reflector, and later had a 25cm reflector which he built to mount a Slater mirror in 1935. His superb lunar drawings were much appreciated, and he did a lot of book illustrations. He continued observing until 1990. A member of “Mr Barker’s Circle”, an observing group of eight men active from April 1934 to December 1938 and May 1946 to May 1948 (see Hertfordshire, McKim 2013).

Baum, Richard Myer (1930-2017) born Chester, Cheshire who followed a career as a branch post-master. His astronomical interests were lunar and planetary observation and the history of astronomy. Baum was Mercury Section Coordinator (1977-96) and Historical Section Coordinator (2001-14) for the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers and was multiple winner (2001-3&5) of their Walter H Haas Observers Award. In the BAA Baum he was Terrestrial Planets section director (1979-91), Mercury and Venus Section Director (1991-2000) and winner of the Lydia Brown Award (1983, & 8 (Obit., JBAA, 128 (2018), p.109 & Obit., JALPO, 60 (2017), p.17).

Butterworth, Charles Frederick [FRAS] (1870-1947), born Stretford, Lancashire and was educated in Manchester. Following a career in the cotton trade he moved to Poynton, Cheshire where he eatblished an observatoy. On retirement in 1927 he moved to the Isle of Man where he continued his observations (see Isle of Man; Obit., MNRAS, 40 (1947), 40-1; Kewin 2011).

Burbidge, Margaret (1919-2020), born Davenport, part of Stockport, astrophysicist who served at the University of London Observatory, Yerkes Observatoryof the University of Chicago, Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, the California Institute of Technology, and, from 1979 to 1988, was first director of the Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), where she has worked since 1962.

Espin, Thomas H.E.C. [Revd.] (1858-1934), born Birmingham; after graduating from Oxford University he was appointed curate in West Kirby on the Wirral. Involved with the establishment of the Liverpool Astronomical Society.  Later he moved to County Durham and in 1888 he became vicar of Tow Law, a few miles south of Conset, County Durham, where he built his observatory there (ODNB) see Durham.

Hartnup, John Chapman (1806-85), astronomer  and first director of the Bidston Observatory (ODNB) see below.)

Longbottom, Frederick William (1850-1933), hop merchant by trade, he operated several telescopes from his garden in Chester, notable an 18½-inch Calver reflector a 12-inch f1.9 reflector, the latter used for comet photography. Longbottom was a keen astronomical photographer and went on to serve as Director of the BAA Photographic Section 1906-1926. He founded the Chester Astronomical Society in 1892 (Obit, MNRAS, 94 (1934), 281; Shears 2013a; Stroobant 1907, 59).

Lovell, Bernard (1913-2012), worked in Dorset at Worth Matravers on the development of Radar and would continue in astronomy at the forefront of radio astronomy establishing the Jodrell Bank radio observatory (Obit., A&G, 53[6] (Dec. 2012), 6.34-5).

Molyneux, Samuel (1689-1728), born Chester, politican and an amateur astronomer whose worked with James Bradley attempting to measure stellar parallax led to the discovery of the aberration of light. (see ODNB; Surrey).

Plummer, William (1849-1928), born near Greenwich. Trained at the ROG as a computer, and qualifying as an observer on the transit, in 1868 he joined Bishop’s Regent’s Park Observatory. Plummer later asserted that whatever skills he had acquired he owed to Bishop’s observer, John Hind. In 1874 Plummer was appointed First Assistant at the new University of Oxford Observatory. Professor Charles Pritchard never observed at Oxford, and the principal work fell to Plummer, as Pritchard always generously acknowledged. In 1892 Plummer was appointed director of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board’s Bidston Observatory, and remained there until his death. William’s son Henry Crozier Plummer became the first graduate assistant at the University of Oxford’s Observatory, and by appointment to Dublin in 1912 the only Oxford graduate between 1842 and 1939 to direct a British observatory (‘Obit., MNRAS, 89 [4] (1929), 320-23).

Rackham, Thomas William [Dr; FRAS] (1919-2001), who studied at University of Manchester (BSc 1961, PhD 1966), director of the Armagh Planetarium (1968 -71). Later worked at the Jodrell Bank Observatory as assistant to Bernard Lovell. He wrote books on the Moon and astronomical photography (Obit. JBAA, 111 (2001), p.291).

Ryland, Thomas Glazebrook (1818-1900), born Warrington, a wire manufacturer and ironmaster who lived at Highfields, Thelwall in Cheshire. A polymath scientist with an interest in astronomy having acquired a 5-inch Cooke refractor with equatorial mount and a transit instrument. He published none of his observations and in 1888 gave his instruments to the Liverpool Corporation. A structure to house them was first established at the Nautical Academy at Colquitt Street and then moved to the New Technical School in Bryom Street – now a museum (Obit., MNRAS, 61 (1900), 188-9).

Skinner, Frederick (1860 -1927), born Falmouth who worked both at the Falmouth and Bidston observatories (see Cornwall; Scoffield 2006, 127-30).

Whichello, Harold  [Dr.] (1870-1945), born Linslade, Bedfordshire where he was schooled and attend university at Gottingham and Geneva before studying at St Thomas Hospital,  London. A General Practitioner in Tattenhall, residing at The Mount, Tattenhall. Here he followed his interest in astronomy a fellow of the FRAS, and member of both the BAA and Liverpool Astronomical Society. He owned a 9-inch reflector and later a 6-inch Wray refracting telescope which he used for lunar observations (Obit., JBAA, 55 (1945), 163; Shears & Hull 2014).

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