Astronomers: Middlesex

Attkins, Ernest Anthony Lonsdale (fl.1907-1924), born Edmonton, London, who worked as a railway canvasser. A lunar and planetary observer, he first used a 61/2-inch and then 10-inch reflecting telescope from his home at 16 Victoria Cottage, Archway Road, Highgate, London –  Squirrel Heath, Romford, Essex by 1919. An active BAA member, he was involved with both the lunar and Mars sections.  Travelled to Madeira, for a more favourable view of the close apparition of Mars (1924), using an 81/2-inch reflector (McKim 2003Stroobant 1907, 130).

Brühl, John Maurice [Hans Moritz] [Count von Brüh] (1736–1809), diplomatist and patron of science, at Harefield House, Harefield (ODNB).

Common, Andrew Ainslie (1841-1903), established his observatory in a shed in his garden at Ealing in 1876. Pioneering astrophotographer, and pioneer in designing equatorially mounted silver-on-glass reflectors. Sold his 36-inch reflector to Crossley for £2,500. Then made a 60-inch instrument, which ended up at Harvard (ODNB).

Everett, Alice (1865-1949), born Glasgow and educated in Belfast gaining a maths tripos degree at Girton College, Cambridge.  Employed as supernumerary computer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (1890-5), Potsdam observatory on the Carte du Ciel (1895-8) and Vassar College Observatory 1899. Later she worked on Optics under her father at Queens College, Belfast (1900-4), then the National Physics laboratory, Teddington (1917-25).  A founder member of the British Astronomical Association after being barred from joining the Royal Astronomical Society (WIKIAlice EverettBruck 1994).

De la Rue, Warren (1815-89), born Guernsey. In 1852 he obtained the first good photographs of the Moon, and in 1857 of the Sun. His photographs of the total solar eclipse of 1860 finally proved that the prominences are part of the solar atmosphere, not a lunar phenomena. Established an observatory (1849-57) at Canonbury (see London page), then at Cranford (1857-73) see below .  For the definitive and handsomely illustrated account of his astronomy (ODNB; Obit., MNRAS, 50 (1890), 155-64; Le Conte 2011).

Fisher, George [Revd.] (1794-1873), born  Sunbury, Middlesex – see County of London; Warwickshire.

Foster, Edgar William (18 Feb. 1904 – 1987), born Luton, Foster worked at the University of London Observatory at Mill Hill from 1952. He held the post of lecturer from 1953 and  observed several total solar eclipses; from Syd Koster in Sweden on 1954 June 30. Ceylon on 1955 June 20 and Canary Islands on 1959 October 2 (see Mill Hill Observatory).

Harriot, Thomas (1560-1621), born in Oxford, the first lunar cartographer of any country. At Syon House, the Duke of Newcastle’s residence in Middlesex, “He first turned his rudamentary telescope to the Moon on 1609 July 26 – some four months before Galileo’s observations – but he did not see fit to publish his chart until the summer of 1610, by which time Galileo’s drawings of the Moon had already appeared – see Oxfordshire (Leatherbarrow 2013; Chapman 2009; ODNB).

Hay, William ( Will ) Thomson  [FRAS] (1888-1949), born Stockton-on-Tees, a comedian and actor best known through his 1930s film roles.  He first established an observatory at his home in Norwood then moved it to Hendon in North London in 1934 (see Surrey; ODNB; Obit., MNRAS, 110 (1950), 130-1; Mobberley & Goward 2009).

Hardcastle, Joseph A. (1868-1917),  born Harrow, great grandson of William Herschel (see Berkshire).

Holmes, Edwin (1839-1919), born Sheffield, a glass merchant/cutter based in London during his working life. A keen amateur astronomer and founder member of the BAA, he is best known for the comet (17P/Holmes) he discovered in 1892. He observed from his garden in Hornsey Rise where he erected a Romsey style observatory.  It housed a home-made 9-inch, then 12-inch Newtonian reflector on an altazimuth mount.  Holmes contributed papers to both the BAA and English Mechanic, a controversial figure known for his acerbic lettering (Shears 2015b; Stroobant 1907, 131).

Irving, Ronald Nicholas (1915-2005), born Teddington, Middlesex.  The youngest son of Horace Irving the founder of the instrument & telescope making company of H. N. Irving and Son (see Nat. archives).  After serving an apprenticeship with Ottoway at the Orion Works, Ealing London he joined the family company based in Teddington – briefly relocated to Suffolk.  Later, sole proprietor, famous in amateur astronomer circles for the craftsmanship of the telescope sold (Obit. JBAA, 116 [3](2006), 146).

Lepper, Gerald Harper [Capt.; FRAS] (1885-1965), amateur astronomer and observer of Jupiter using a 3½-inch refractor from Kensington (1907), then at 40 Radnor Road, Harrow (1922-4) with a 6½-inch reflector. Known to be active in the Jupiter section of the BAA and fellow of the RAS – not to be confused with the author of Nebula to Nebula by George Henry Lepper (Stroobant 1907, 132).

McNally, Derek (1934-2020) [Dr] retired Director of ULO described Foster as following;  ‘He was a great builder of spectrographs – somewhat in the style of Heath Robinson. But they worked well and he measured many spectra to useful effect – transition probabilities’.  In retirement Foster died in Birmingham, 1987 (see below – Mill Hill Observatory).

Moore, Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell [CBE FRS., Hon. Vice-Pres. SHA] (1923-), was born in Pinner, Middlesex – see Sussex page.

Merlin, Augustus Alfred Cornwallis Eliot (1860-1946), born Athens, Greece he was educated in England following his father in to diplomatic service. Vice consul to Thessaly in Vico, Greece he served here until 1920 when he retired to England taking up residence at West Ealing, London. During this period, he was an active using an 8 ½ inch Horne & Thornthwaite reflector, being an early member of the BAA and submitting his observations of Jupiter. In retirement he established an observatory in his back garden housing a 12-inch reflector by Linscott. After his death his instruments and a bequest were given to the BAA (McKim 2017).

Pigott, Nathaniel (1725-1804)– born Whitton, Middlesex, but later created an observatory, at Bootham, York (1781-85 & 1792-93) – see North Riding page.

Tupman, George Lyon [Lieut.-Col.] (1838-1922), born Boulogne, France, educated at the Royal Navy School, New Cross, London. His career was spent in the Royal Marine Artillary, retiring in 1880. During this time to followed his interest in astronomy observing Meteors and supervising various Transit of Venus expeditions, Honolulu (1874) and Christchurch NZ (1882). From his home, at Harrow, London he established his ‘Hillfoot Observatory’ that was equipped with a transit circle and a 12-inch Calver reflecting telescope on an equatorial mount that also carried a refractor.  He was active on the council of the RAS (Obit., MNRAS, 83 (1923), 247-8); Stroobant 1907, 98).

Walker, William (1766-1816), baptized Kendal, Cumbria, was King’s scholar at Eton College, Windsor. At the age of 16 he took up a career as an iterant astronomy lecturer with his father, Adam Walker (1730/1-1820). After moving to London he took residence at the ‘Manor House’, Hayes where he established an observatory (ODNB; Hutton 1815, 129, Johnson 2021, 32-3).

Walker, William Cameron [Dr] (1896-1978), born Bradford, he took a chemistry degree at King’s College London then an MSc at UCL and finally gained a doctorate in History of Science through part-time study. In 1923 he became Science Master Minchenden Grammar School where he stayed until 1938 when he was appointed headmaster at Kingston High School, Hull until he retired in 1961. During this time he developed his interest in astronomy, establishing observatories at both Minchenden School and Kingston High School (Holten 2018).

Waters, Henry Hayden (1880-1939), born in Coventry who followed a career in the timber trade in both Liverpool and London. He had a keen interest in astronomy since his childhood, inherited from his father and became a member of Liverpool Astronomical Society and in 1908.  He then joined the BAA, serving on their council and was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1919.  Waters had a well-equipped observatory at his home in Harrow with a 5-inch Zeiss clock-driven refractor on loan from the BAA. He had particular interest in photographing meteors and an active member of the Meteor and Photographic Sections of the BAA. In 1921 he published a book Astronomical Photography for Amateurs – see Warwickshire (Obit., MNRAS, 100 (1940), 264-5).

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