Astronomers: Kent

Coleman, William (1824-1911), born in the parish of St. Mary, of independent means, he erected a private observatory at his home, ‘The Shrubbery’ at Buckland near Dover.  The observatory was furnished with an 8-inch Cooke refractor to make observations of double stars that were published by the RAS (Obit., JBAA, 21 (1911), 395-6; Obit., MNRAS, 21 (1912), 247-8).

Dawes, William Rutter [Revd.](1799-1868), born Christ’s Hospital school, London. After leaving the service of Bishop at his Regent Park Obsevatory (1839-44), he lived at both Cranbrook , and Wateringbury where he established Observatories (ODNB; Denning 1913; see County of London; Lancashire).

Darwin, George Howard (1845-1912) son of the famous biologist, Charles Darwin was born at Downe July 9 1845 and was educated at Cambridge. He became Professor of Astronomy there in 1883, working mainly on tidal theory. Knighted in 1906 he died December 7, 1912 (ODNB; see Cambridgeshire).

Fotheringham, David Ross [Rev., FRAS] (1872-1939), born Tottenham, London, educated at City of London School, graduating from Queen’s College, Cambridge (elder brother of J.K. Fotheringham). His career in the church took him to the living of Charing in Kent. Here he developed his interest in astronomy, making a study of the calendar and lunar phases on which he published (Obit., MNRAS, 100 (1940), p.247).

Freeman [nee Penrose], Louisa Petitot [FRAS] (c.1851-1938), born in Ireland but lived in Southborough, Kent after marriage then Oxfordshire. Freeman observed the aurora, a planetary occultation and a transit of Mercury. Member of the BAA and Fellow of the RAS.

Herschel, Sir John (1792–1871) lived at Collingwood House in Hawkhurst for thirty years prior to his death there (see Buckinghamshire).

Hussey, Thomas John [Revd.] (1792-1854/66), born Lamberhurst, and rector of Hayes both in Kent.  Here he established a well equipped observatory with an Fraunhofer refractor, making a wide range of observations.  Due to injury he gave up astronomy in 1838, selling his observatory to the new Durham Observatory in 1841. He then moved to Algier on route to Paris but disappeared, his fate is unknown (ODNB; Hutchins 2008).

Lynden-Bell, Donald (1935- ), born Dover (see Cambridgeshire).

Main, Robert (1808-78) was born at Upnor, Kent. From Queen’s College, Cambridge, he graduated sixth wrangler in 1834, and took holy orders. Appointed Chief Assistant at the ROG 1835, served there for 25 years, then in 1860 became Radcliffe Observer in Oxford (ODNB; see County of London; Oxfordshire).

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

Nasmyth, James Hall (1808-90), born Edinburgh, built his business in Eccles, Lancashire, retired in 1856 to Penshurst, Kent, and established an observatory at his new home (ODNB; Lancashire; Kilburn 2005a; Kilburn 2005b).

Norton, Arthur Philip (1876-1955), born Cardiff who trained as a teacher and received an external degree from Univsersity College, Dublin. With a lifelong interest in astronomy he his best known for the star atlas, first published in 1910, which bears his name (see Glamorgan; Obit., JBAA, 66 [3] (1956); 111; James 1993b).

McClean, Frank (1837-1904), born Glasgow, educated at Cambridge, inherited money and built an observatory at Ferncliffe, 1875 (see ODNB).

Meers, Arthur William [FGS; FRAS] (fl. 1898-1907), director of Watts Ltd (Varnish Gum Merchants) who lived in Streatham then at 48 Wickham Road, Beckenham, South London. Elected to the BAA, RAS and Royal Geographical Society and is known to have observed the Moon with a 6-inch refractor (Stroobant 1907, 28; Election JBAA, 8 (1898), p.246).

Peek, Bertrand Meigh (1891 -1965), as a teacher who taught at the Simon Langton School for Boys in Canterbury (see Warwickshire).

Penrose, Louisa Petitot [FRAS] (c.1851-1938) see Freeman above

Salomons, Sir David Lionel Goldsmid-Stern- [FRAS] (1851-1925),  born Hove, he was educated both at University College, London and Cambridge University. Of independent means, his main interests lay in mechanics, but he had an interest in astronomy. In 1875, he planned an observatory on the new tower he built onto the side of his home, ‘Bromhill’, Southborough near Tunbridge-Well. It is not clear whether the observatory was ever established, the structure was later converted into a water tower. Both he and his uncle, Sir David Salomons, were fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society, though appear not to be observers (ODNB; Obit. MNRAS, 86 (1926), 188-9).

Wilding, Richard [FRAS](1842-1930) , born Preston, a Lancashire cotton producer with an interest in astronomy who moved to Bromley around 1900 (see Lancashire; Stroobant 1907, 45).

Wilkins, Hugh Percival [Percy] (1896-1960), born in Carmarthen and lived his early life in Llanelli, Wales. He joined the BAA in 1918. Director BAA Lunar Section 1945-56. He rebuilt the Section, with a team of outstanding observers, among a Section strength by 1952 of more than 130. But instead of a move towards scientific analysis, he adopted the ‘new selenography’ of W.H. Pickering, Elger and Goodacre, which emphasised mapping in fine detail, searching for lunar change, and belief in the volcanic origin of most features. Wilkins was “perhaps the last of the classical Moon-mappers, producing successive charts of 100 inches, 200 inches, and, finally, 300 inches diametre”. He used an 18-inch Newtonian. However he was not sufficiently cautious in questioning detail, which led him to extravagant claims about changes and unusual phenomena. His reputation was damaged, and he resigned in 1956 (see Camarthenshire; Leatherbarrow 2013, 148-9; Jones 2014, 79) .

Wollaston, Francis (1731-1815), born London (see Norfolk)

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