Astronomers: Shropshire

Blunt, Henry(d.1853) a chemist of Shrewsbury, presented two models of the lunar crater Eratosthenes to the Royal Astronomical Society, these are dated 1848 and 1849 and still exist in the RAS Library. Blunt, who died in 1853, also wrote a letter on 22 September 1835 to the Salopian Journal giving details of a Comet, probably Comet Halley (Hingley 2000).

Clive, Margaret [née Maskelyne](1735-1817), born London, sister of Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne,  was interested in astronomy like her brother. Margaret (1735-1817) the wife of Robert Clive ‘of India’ retired to Oakly Park in Shropshire after the death of her husband in 1774. She is said to have had an extensive collection of telescopes, globes and cats! (ODNB).

Laurie, Stephen (fl.1995), an amateur astronomer based in Church Stretton discovered a supernova in 1997.  has a Meade LX200 and discovered supernova 1997BQ in NGC3147 on 7 April 1997 (10). He also has discovered many minor planets and one, 7603 Salopia, discovered in 1995, is named in honour of Shropshire (11).

Pritchard, Charles (1808-1893), born Alderbury, but the family moved to Brixton, London. Educated at St John’s College, Cambridge. An established teacher with a great reputation, ordained in 1834, in that year he opened his only school in Clapham, packed it with scientific apparatus, added an observatory and a swimming pool, and presided there with great success until retirement in 1862. His lectures maintained his reputation. He had joined the RAS in 1849, served continuously on its Council 1856-77, and was President 1866. Through the influence of his RAS friends, in 1870 at the age of 62 he was appointed Savilian professor of Astronomy in the University of Oxford, the last cleric to be appointed to a chair of natural science there (see Oxfordshire; ODNB; Hutchins 2008).

Torporley, Nathaniel (1564-1632) born in Shropshire and went to school at Shrewsbury Free Grammar School before studying at Oxford. He was later ordained and was an associate of Thomas Harriot (an early telescopic observer of the Moon). Torporley was a Copernican and in 1602 published a book Diclides Coelometricae which he hoped to demonstrate improved methods for compiling astronomical tables. He also designed sundials and other astronomical instruments (ODNB).

Rees, Martin (1942- ) the current Astronomer Royal, was educated at Shrewsbury School. In 2005, when he entered the House of Lords, he took the title ‘Baron Rees of Ludlow’ (see Cambridgeshire).

Senex, John (c.1678-1740) was baptized at Ludlow on 24 November 1678, but his career was in London as a publisher and maker of maps and globes. He published Edmond Halley’s ‘A Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets’ in 1705 (ODNB).

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