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, Rev. Edward Lyon (1813-1899)  was born in Finsbury Square, London on February 20, 1813. In 1841 he entered Magdalene College,Cambridge to study for the Clergy. Graduating as B.A. in 1845 and M.A. in 1849, he moved to Hampshire where he was first given the curacy at Lymington and then the living of Fareham (1847-57). This was after a varied early career when he tried surgery, giving that up to get married and embark on a European tour which lasted six years. Interested in mechanical engineering and design, during his lifetime he put his skills to designing collapsible boats, a screw propellor and a sea anchor.

In his free time he constructed equatorial reflecting telescopes, that is everything except the mirrors. At the Paris Exhibition in 1878 he received a silver medal for one of 12 ½ inch aperture. 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.  He was elected into the fellowship of the Royal Astronomical Society on January 8 1865. He read only one paper to the society, on the 11 December 1874, ‘On the Equestrian Equatorial’. He also demonstrated a model of it at the meeting. Presumably this style of telescope mount derived its name from the double counter weights that look like a riders legs on either side of a horse.  Berthon is perhaps best remembered these days in the amateur astronomical community for his ‘dynamometer’. This device is used to measure the diameter of the pencil of light rays emerging from the eyepiece of a telescope. In Berthon’s day this bright circle was known as the ‘Ramsden Disc’, the modern term is ‘Exit Pupil’. Berthon wrote his autobiography A Retrospect of Eight Decades, shortly before he died at Romsey, Hampshire on October 28, 1899.  (SeeRomsey Observatory below)

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).

Goodacre, Walter (1856-1938), born in Nottingham, a Schoolteacher who retired to Bournmouth soon after acquiring a 10-inch Cooke refracting telescope (see Leicestershire;  Obit., MNRAS99 (1939), 310-1; Stroobant 1931).

Howlett, Rev. Frederick (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, but as a child moved to Ampthill, Beds. After 1836 lived in Ipswich, Suffolk, and had a fine observatory there. A friend of Admiral Smyth and the Hartwell Synod. See MNRAS, 21, 4 (Feb. 1861), 103-05. Also see William Barton, ‘Building steps to the stars’, Astronomy Now (December 1999), 54-55.

Markwick, Ernest Elliott (1853-1925), born in East Acton, Kent (See Kent)

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s