Our Survey of astronomical history is organised into government regions and the related historic ceremonial counties, prior to government re-organisation in 1965 (London) & 1974. Cites or parts and large metropolitan areas within England are listed under their original county – eg. Newcastle upon Tyne, under Northumberland.
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As this is the ENGLAND page, we will periodically choose interesting people or places to feature here. Our current choice is from the tiny county of Rutland, researched by SHA member Mike Leggett ………
“The Wing Dynasty” a remarkable family of astronomers, astrologers, instrument makers and land surveyors spanning some 6 generations. The principal members of the Wing family with astronomical interests were, in chronological order:
Vincent Wing (1587 ?), a small farmer in North Luffenham, Rutland [Galileo Project], he also had an interest in astronomy. This included astronomical observations in 1621 and it may have been his interest in astronomy that kindled his son’s interest [Capp].
Vincent Wing (1619 – 1668), astronomer, astrologer and land surveyor, was born in North Luffenham and was the eldest son of Vincent Wing (1587 – 1660) [Clerke; Capp]. His fame was based on his achievements in astronomy, especially as a champion of the new astronomical systems of Copernicus and Tycho Brahe.
With the mathematician William Leybourn, he wrote Urania practica, or, Practical Astronomie, which was published in 1649. It included a description of the planetary system as devised by Tycho Brahe [Capp]; this was probably Tycho Brahe’s model in which the planets other than the Earth orbited the Sun and this system as a whole orbited the Earth.
Wing then wrote Harmonicon coeleste, the first significant treatise on planetary astronomy since the Copernican revolution, which was published in 1651 [Capp]. It reflects his conversion to Copernicanism and Keplerian astronomy [Columbia University]. It included an explanation of the application of logarithms to astronomical problems and a description of the Copernican model of the solar system. There were tables based on observations by Tycho Brahe and Kepler, supplemented by Wing’s own observations, together with observations by William Leybourn and Robert Billingsley (see above) [Capp]. Wing’s Harmonicon coeleste has been cited as one of the books, which influenced Newton’s ideas on astronomy as presented in the third book of Principia (1687) [Columbia University].
In 1669, shortly after his death, Wing’s most important work was published, Astronomia Britannia, which was a large-scale Latin treatise on the size, distance and motions of the planets in accordance with the Copernican model. The most significant English astronomical work of its time, it had considerable impact at home and abroad [Capp].
Wing also published Ephemerides; John Flamsteed regarded them as the best in print [Capp].
John Wing (bap. 1662 – d.1726), see Authors, lecturers, broadcasters below
John Wing (c.1673 – 1715), see Telescope/equipment manufacturers below
Tycho Wing (1696 – 1750), see Authors, lecturers, broadcasters below
Tycho Wing (1726 – 1776), see Telescope/equipment manufacturers below
Tycho Wing (1794 – 1851), land surveyor, grandson of John Wing (1723 – 1780), whom he succeeded as agent at the Duke of Bedford’s estates at Thorney, Cambridgeshire. He became known as “King of the Fens” [Capp] and he surveyed the River Nene outfall and surrounding marshes, sometimes with John Rennie and Thomas Telford. The mouth of the River of Nene is known as Tycho Wing’s Channel and the land on the East side of the river is known as Central Wingland or Wingfield [Twickenham Museum].
For more on Rutland click here or the county name in the sidebar.