Astronomers: Wiltshire

Bayly, William (1737-1810), born at Bishops Cannings, near Devizes (see Hampshire;  ODNB).

Bevis, John (1695-1771) born Old Sarum, nr. Salisbury who trained as a physician. He made his first telescopic observation of an occultation of one planet (Mercury) by another (Venus), on May 28, 1737, using a 24-foot focal length refractor, although clouds prevented him from being able to observe the complete event. In 1738 he erected a private observatory at Stoke Newington, there he commenced the project for which he is better known, the compilation of a star atlas Uranometria Brittanica (1750). Unfortunately the publishers went bankrupt, which prevented it from being better known. He was the author of 27 papers (mainly on astronomy) which appeared in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. He also invented a ‘satellite slide rule for predicting the eclipses of Jupiter’s satellites’. Elected FRS 1765 (see ODNB).

Drew, John (1809-1857), born Bower Chalk (see Hampshire; ODNB).

Hopper, Edwin George (1880-1967), born Gravesend, Kent and later worked at the Great Western Railworks, Swindon. Known to have constructed a 12-inch Newtonian reflecting telescope (see Meccano Magazine, 1934 (August), p.638)

Kinder, Anthony John (1953- ) Ashton under Lyne, nr Manchester, Lancashire
Although born in Lancashire, his mother was born in Swindon, Wiltshire, and from age of 2½ to 20 lived and was educated in Swindon. Educated at Pinehurst and Headlands Schools. It was while at Pinehurst Senior School that he developed an interest in astronomy, as part of an English class project, where each pupil took a subject and which had to be presented to the class for ten minutes at the end of term. This soon led to an interest in the history of astronomy (history already being his best subject). Borrowing a copy of Weigart and Zimmermann’s ABC of Astronomy sparked an interest in the biographical aspect of history and from then he started compiling a data base of biographies. At present (2008) this stands at over 5000 individuals (as to be expected the collection of this information fluctuated over the years due to various reasons, including career). In 1989 he commenced a 4 year part time course at Birkbeck College, University of London which led to an honours degree in history. In 1995 he commenced a two year part time course at Imperial College, University of London, leading to an MSc in the history of science.

Lenham, Alan Pennell (1930-1996), born Swindon, an experimental physicist who earlier worked with Dr Gerald Kuiper observing the planets at the Yerkes observatory.  After retirement he become involved with the Mars and Saturn sections of the British Astronomical Association (‘Obit.’, JBAA, 107 [1] (1997), p.50).

Marsh, Narcissus (1638-1713), born Hannington, near Highworth (see ArmaghODNB).

Elimer [Oliver] of Malmesbury (fl. 1066), a monk at Malmesbury who is known to have written on astrology (see White, Lynn (1961), ‘Eilmer of Malmesbury, an Eleventh Century Aviator: A Case Study of Technological Innovation, Its Context and Tradition’, Technology and Culture 2 (2): 97–111.

Phillips, John (1800-1874), born Marden (see Oxfordshire; ODNB).

Pound, James (1669-1724) born Bishop’s Canning (see Essex; ODNB)

Steavenson, William Herbert (1894-1975), died Swindon (see County of London).

Story-Maskelyne, Melvyn Herbert Neville (1823-1911) born Basset Down House, nr. Wroughton, His mother was Margaret, daughter of Neville Maskelyne. Educated at Bruton Grammar School, Somerset and Wadham College, Oxford (BA 2nd class honours Mathematics 1845; MA 1849). After leaving Oxford, he studied law, but gave this up for science in 1847. In 1850 accepted an invitation to deliver lectures on mineralogy at Oxford, where lived and worked from 1851-1857. There he promoted natural science in the curriculum, and examiner in the new School of Natural Science in 1855 and 1856. Professor of Mineralogy in 1856 (resigned 1895), succeeding Buckland, being allocated a laboratory in the new museum (opened 1861). In 1857 appointed to the newly created post of Keeper of the Minerals at the British Museum (resigned 1881). There he reorganised and the collection according to Gustave Rose’s crystallochemical system. He maintained and developed the collection to become the largest in existence, adding 43,000 specimens. He published a catalogue of minerals at the museum in 1863. He had an interest in meteorites, and was to become one of the first to study them using thin sections with a microscope. He published his results of his researches, most important being on Parnallee, Nellore, Breitenbach, Manegaum, Busti, Shalka and Rowton meteorites. Asmanite, Oldhamite and Osbornite, constituents of meteoric stones, were first isolated and determined by him. He was the first to recognise the presence of enstatite in meteorites. He was an FRS (1870), FGS (1854; Wollaston Medal 1893). Also Honorary or Corresponding Member of Imperial Mineralogical Society of St. Petersburg; Society of Natural History of Boston; Royal Academy of Bavaria; Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Served as MP for the borough of Cricklade (1880), and was a member of the Wiltshire County Council (1889-1904). Buried in Purton, Wiltshire. Wrote “On the Mineral Constituents of Meteorites” Proc. of the R. S. of London 18 146-7, (1871) 19 266-268 (see ODNB).

Talbot,William Henry Fox (1800-1877), pioneer of photography with an interest in astronomy (see Dorset).

Wren, Christopher [Sir](1632-1723), born East Knoyle (see ODNBLondon)

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