Astronomers: Hampshire

Bayly, William (1737-1810), born at Bishops Cannings, near Devizes.  In 1771 he was appointed assistant to the astronomer royal Nevil Maskelyne at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. He then served as astronomer on Captain Cooks Second Voyage to the South Seas.  After his eturn to England he was appointed headmaster of the Royal Naval Academy in Portsmouth Dockyard in 1785. (ODNB).

Berthon, Edward Lyon [Revd.] (1813-1899), born London he took holy orders at Magdalene College, Cambridge being ordained in 1845. He moved to Hampshire in 1849 where he was first given the curacy at Lymington and the living of Fareham (1847-57) before moving to Romsey. Interested in mechanical engineering and design, during his lifetime he put his skills to designing collapsible boats, a screw propellor and a sea anchor. He also constructed equatorial reflecting telescopes (except optics) and a type of observatory that bear the name of where he lived. At the Paris Exhibition in 1878 he received a silver medal for one of 12½-inch reflector. A year before his death he completed a 16 ½ inch, ten feet focal length telescope complete with observatory. This was constructed at his boat yard for export to South Africa. Sir Howard Grubb supplied the optics. Many of his telescopes went to other priests, such as the Reverend Thomas William Webb. Elected to the RAS, he only delivered one paper, ‘On the Equestrian Equatorial’ (1874)- this style of mount derived its name from the double counter weights looking like a riders legs on  a horse.  Berthon is perhaps best remembered these days in the amateur astronomical community for his ‘dynamometer’. It is used to measure the diameter of the pencil of light rays emerging from the eyepiece of a telescope – known as the ‘Ramsden Disc’, now ‘Exit Pupil’. He also wrote an autobiography, A Retrospect of Eight Decades (ODNB; Obit., MNRAS, 60 (1900), 314-6).

Dennett, Frank Compton (1857-1926), born Winchester, insurance agent, science/astronomical writer and lecturer.  Wrote variously in the Astronomical Registrar, The Observatory and Nature.  Later lived in Southampton (1878-81) and Hackney, London (1891-1926) (see County of London).

Drew, John (1809-1857) born Bower Chalk, but received little formal education. At the age of 15 he took up teaching; about age 17 he went to Southampton where for the following 16 years he ran his own school. He made his first astronomical observations using a small refractor, which was later replaced with a 5-foot Dollond equatorial, installed in a small observatory in his garden. Using a transit circle by Thomas Jones and a Beaufoy clock lent by the Royal Society, he made accurate determinations of time, supplying them for ships leaving Southampton. He also published on astronomy and its apparatus. Reviewed the astronomy section of the Great Exhibition of 1851 for the Civil Engineer and Architect’s Journal, to which he also contributed articles on astronomy and meteorology. In meteorology he searched for a correlation between the weather conditions and cholera outbreaks in Southampton between 1848-1853 did not show any correlation, presenting these results to the British Association. He also travelled on the Continent, visiting Brussels Observatory and Basel. At Basel he met C. F. Schönfeld, who recruited him as a member of a network of observers to observe the atmospheric distribution of ozone. FRAS 1846; founder member of the (Royal) Meteorological Society (1850).  Author of Practical Meteoroligical.(1855) and articles to Monthly Notices of the RAS and the journal of the Meteorological Society (ODNB, Obit., MNRAS, 18 (1858), 98).

Goodacre, Walter (1856-1938), born in Nottingham, a Schoolteacher who retired to Bournmouth soon after acquiring a 10-inch Cooke refracting telescope from James H. Worthington’s Four Marks Observatory (see Leicestershire;  Obit., MNRAS, 99 (1939), 310-1; Stroobant 1931).

Howlett, Frederick [Revd.] (1821-1908), lived in East Tisted Rectory, Alton, Hants. Solar observer for 35 years using a 3 inch refracting telescope.

May, Charles (1800-1860), born Alton, and in childhood moved to Ampthill, Beds then Ipswich, Suffolk (see Suffolk Barton 1999; Obit.,MNRAS, 21 (1861), 101-2).

Markwick, Ernest Elliott (1853-1925), born in East Acton, Kent, an original member of the BAA, President 1912-14, Director BAA Variable Star Section 1899-1909. FRAS 1879. On his 21st birthday 19 July 1874 his parents gave him a 2 3/4-inch (8cm) refractor which remained a favourite instrument, later mounted on a Wray equatorial mount and tripod. He established Observatories at Devonport (1898-1903); Boscombe (1905-14)and lastly ‘The Beehive Observatory’at his retirement home in West Moors, Dorset. His first recorded variable star observation was 1883, and regularly from 1888 until 1924. He was also a regular solar observer. “A very distinguished astronomer”, his Calver is on view at the Auckland Observatory, New Zealand (Kent; Shears 2012c).

Westlake, Thomas , Quaker, lived in Fordingbridge where he built an observatory and installed a 12-inch equatorial reflector. 

Worthington, James H. [FRAS] (1884-1980), born Eccles, Lancashire, son of a wealthy textile manufacturer. After graduating from Wadham College, Oxford, followed by a world tour. This allowed him to pursue his avid interest in astronomy, during which he visited and observed at Flagstaff Observatory – elected FRAS 1908.  This was followed by a series of eclipse expeditions and controversy as he was a believer in Lowell’s canals on Mars. By 1911 he had ordered a 20-inch Claver reflector and had purchased a secondhand 10-inch Cooke refractor for an observatory complex he planned at Four Marks in Medstaed, Hants – completed by 1913. After marriage to an american woman in 1918 he settled in California and made little use of his observatory – being dismantled by 1925.  He spent the rest of his life in America (Mobberley 2018).

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