Baxendell, Joseph [Snr.](1815-1887), born at Bank Top, Manchester, later lived at the Observatory, Birkdale, Southport. Largely self-taught, he became a very competent mathematician. After years at sea, he came ashore and became an estate agent. His observing logs showed that he observed regularly throughout the period 1836 to 1888. First with his friend Robert Worthington of Crumpsall Old Hall, they erected the Crumpsall Observatory, where the speculae for the 13″ With reflector he cast, ground and polished himself. He observed there until 1877 with two reflectors and with smaller achromats available. In 1859 he was appointed Astronomer to the Manchester Corporation, his responsibility to give time to the city.
In 1865 Baxendell married Mary Anne, the sister of Norman Pogson, astronomer, and they had one son. They lived in Birkdale, Southport. In 1871 he was appointed Superintendent of a Meteorological Observatory built in Hesketh Park, Southport, given by John Fernley.
In 1877 Baxendell erected his own observatory at his home 14 Liverpool Road, Birkdale, and resumed his observations of variables with a 6″ Cooke refractor. This instrument, a transit, sidereal chronometer, were loaned by Thomas S. Bazley of Hatherop Castle, Fairford, Gloucestershire, who also paid for the removal and for the new Observatory. For some years he was assisted by his son Joseph. Baxendell’s observations of 23 long-period variables were published in 1912. Altogether he discovered 18 new variable stars, and observed many others with reflecting telescopes. Also a meteorologist of some renown, in 1884 he was elected FRS without having sought that honour.
After his death Joseph’s son (also Joseph Baxendell F.R.Met.Soc.) became Superintendent aged only 18 and remained in post until his retirement some 60 years later. Joseph was well known in meteorological circles and was a Vice-President of the Royal Meteorological Society.
After his father’s death Joseph Jnr. and the Baxendell family agreed to donate the Cooke observatory and Baxley telescope to the Southport Department of Education and placed it in the Hesketh Park Observatory where it is still in use to-day by school children and members of the public from time to time.
[As a result of an unfortunate refurbishment a year or so ago the observatory is not in use at present (2011). When operational it is managed by members of the Southport Astronomical Society]. Note by Michael Dow BA, 18 January 2012 on ‘Listed Buildings: Astronomy Observatory, Southport’ website (See: ‘The Late Joseph Baxendell’. Observatory, 10, 129 (Nov. 1887), 399-400; and ‘Joseph Baxendell’, MNRAS, 48, 4 (Feb. 1888), 157-160; Turner 1907; Wikipedia; ODNB).
Burgess, Eric (1920-2005), born Stockport he joined Manchester AS in 1935. He was involved in setting up several interplanetary and astronautical associations. He became a distinguished author and journalist, and a pioneer in the promotion of rocketry & space exploration. In 1952, he coined the term “interplanetary probe”. He created the idea of placing plaques on spacecraft for extra-terrestrial intelligent beings. This was done on Pioneer 10 in 1972, & Pioneer 11 in 1973.
In 1956 he emigrated to the US, where he gained citizenship in 1962. He remained there until his death in 2005. Among his many books are:
– “Rocket Propulsion, with an Introduction to the Idea of Interplanetary Travel”, 1952
– “Frontier to Space”, 1955
– “Satellites and Spaceflight”, 1957
– “Long-Range Ballistic Missiles”, 1961
– “To the Red Planet”, 1978
Carlisle, William (1842-1910), born London, astronomer and brother at Stoneyhurst College Observatory Augustin (see Udias 2003).
Copeland, Ralph (1837-1905), born near Wood Plumpton (see Midlothian).
Cortie, Aloysius Laurence (1859-1925), born in London, educated at Stonyhurst College and entered the Jesuit Order. He joined the teaching staff in 1885 and was from 1919 the Director of the Observatory (Obituary Notices: Fellows:- Cortie, Aloysius L, MNRAS, 86, 175-7; Wikipedia).
Dawes, William Rutter [Revd.] (1799-1868), born Christ’s Hospital, London – see County of London page. In 1831 took up an Independent ministry in the village of Ormskirk, 15 miles from Liverpool. His Observatory mounted a 3¾” Dollond on an Old English mount that bore powers of 225, 285 and 625. With this instrument he made very precise micrometrical measurements of 222 binary stars, and also observed the planets and occultations (ODNB).
Hartnup, John (1841-1892), was born in Somerset House, by the Thames, but his whole life was lived in Liverpool. In 1863 he became Assistant at the Liverpool Observatory shortly before it was moved from Waterloo Dock to Bidston, and there he followed his father as director. He was killed by falling from the roof of the Observatory while making some meteorological observations there (see Scoffield 2006) – see County of London page.
Hindle, John (1869-1942), born in Edenfield, Lancashire, he became an electrical engineer and textile machinery manufacturer. He was nominated for membership of the Manchester AS and later became vice-president. He built several substantial telescopes, both for his own use and those of other MAS members. On his numerous trips abroad he visited important observatories, especially in the US.
Holden, Moses (1777-1864), astronomer, was born at Bolton, Lancashire, on 21 Nov. 1777. As a youth he worked in a foundry at Preston, until disabled by an accident. On his recovery he occupied himself first as a landscape gardener, then as a weaver. Early in life he possessed a strong love of astronomy, and he collected a library that was remarkable for one in his station. In 1814–15 he constructed a large orrery and an ingenious magic-lantern. These were made for the purpose of illustrating his astronomical lectures, which were first given in the Theatre Royal, Preston, in 1815, and afterwards in many towns in the north of England. In 1818 he published ‘A small Celestial Atlas, or Maps of the Visible Heavens, in the Latitude of Britain,’ 3rd edit. 1834, 4th edit. 1840. It was one of the earliest works of the kind published at a low price. He also compiled an almanac, published in 1835 and later. In 1826 he devoted the proceeds of one of his lectures to the erection of a monument in St. Michael’s Church, Toxteth, Liverpool, to the memory of Jeremiah Horrocks the astronomer. He assisted in establishing the Preston Institution for the Diffusion of Knowledge, and in 1834 the freedom of the borough was conferred on him. He died at Preston on 3 June 1864, aged 86 (ODNB).
Horrocks, Jeremiah (1610-41), born in Lower Lodge, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, was the only person to predict, and one of only two people to observe and record, the transit of Venus of 1639, which was the first transit of Venus to be predicted and observed.
He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 1632-35, but did not graduate, perhaps for lack of means, more likely because he was a non-conformist. There he became familiar with the works of Tycho Brahe, Kepler, and other work. He was the first to demonstrate that the Moon moved in an elliptical path around the Earth, he wrote a treatise on Keplerian astronomy and began to explore mathematically the properties of the force that later became known as gravity. Isaac Newton in the Principia.
After leaving Cambridge he lived at Carr House, within the Bank Hall Estate, Bretherton, Much Hoole, where he was tutor to the children of the Stone family. After studying and criticizing astronomical tables, and making many observations of Venus over a number of years, Horrocks predicted the transit of Venus. From an upstairs window of Carr House on Sunday 23rd November 1639 (O.S.), Horrocks became the first astronomer to see a transit of Venus for about half an hour. The transit was also observed by his friend and correspondent, William Crabtree, from his home in Broughton, near Manchester.
Horrocks’ observations allowed him to make a well-informed guess as to the size of Venus (previously thought to be larger and closer to Earth), as well as to make an estimate of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. His figure of 59 million miles (0.63 AU) was far from the 93 million miles that it is known to be today, but it was a more accurate figure than any suggested up to that time. The observation was published by Hevelius in 1662. Horrocks died suddenly at the age of only 22. The Jeremiah Horrocks Institute for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, was established in 1993 at the University of Central Lancashire (ODNB).
Jeans, Sir James Hopwood (1877-1946), born Ormskirk, Lancashire. Educated Trinity College, Cambridge, second wrangler 1898, physicist, mathematician, cosmologist, author of many books on astronomy. He made fundamental contributions to the theories of radiation and stellar evolution, and with Hoyle and Gold proposed the Steady State theory of the universe (ODNB).
Johnson, Richard Coward (1841-1910), born West Derby, Liverpool and was educated locally. With a lifelong interest in astronomy he worked as an accountant in family business. In 1873 he travelled to the Moab region of Jordan as part of an expedition lead by the cleric, Henry Baker Tristran (1822-1906). He was involved in the establishment of the Liverpool Astronomical Society in 1882 being elected president. He also distinguished himself as acelestial photographer, capturing a fine image of Comet Morehouse 1908c (see ‘Obit. Notices’ MNRAS, 71 (1911), 270).
Lassell, William (1799-1880), born in Bolton, educated in Rochdale, a brewer with a love of engineering and planetary astronomy. In 1839 he built his own 9″ refractor in a cast iron tube, which he mounted beneath an observatory dome. He established his Starfield Observatory near Liverpool with a 24″Reflector for which he made the mirror, mounted on his own experimental equatorial mount. In Lassell moved further out of Liverpool to Bradstones. In 1855, he built a 48″ reflector, which he installed in Malta 1861-65 because of the better observing conditions compared to England, and made discoveries in Orion’s Trapezium cluster.
“It was William Lassell who first overcome the problems involved in figuring large mirrors by means of steam-powered machinery, for while it is true that Lord Rosse had steam-powered a mirror-making machine before Lassell, it was the Lassell-Nasmyth arrangement which formed a prototype. And without doubt, it was to be the Liverpool brewer who first solved the engineering problems that were inherent in mounting a large speculum metal mirror upon a smooth roller-bearing controlled, iron equatorial mount. The modern equatorial tracking of objects across the sky, with a large optical aperture, therefore, is very much a Lassell contribution”. (Allan Chapman, ;William Lassell and the discovery of Triton (1846)’, 1996).
Lassell demonstrated the quality and power of his own large reflectors by discovering in 1846 Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, in 1848 independently co-discovering Hyperion, a moon of Saturn, and in 1851 discovering Ariel and Umbriel, two moons of Uranus (ODNB).
Leadbetter, Charles (1681-1744), born in the village of Cronton, who briefly practised as a government excise officier in the West Midlands. A writer on astronomy and mathematics, his output included works on positional astronomy and the use slide rules and gauging for the purpose of excise calculations (ODNB).
Perry, Stephen Joseph (1833-1889), born London, but became a Jesuit priest and educator, always associated with Stonyhurst College from 1860, and as Director of its Observatory from 1868 (see below). His main contributions were in the fields of magnetism and solar physics. He took a leading part in two Transit of Venus expeditions, and four eclipse expeditions, and lost his life in the 1889 solar eclipse expedition to the Salut Isles. See; George Bishop, ‘Stephen Perry, Forgotten Jesuit Scientist and Educator’, Journal BAA, 89, 5 (1979), 473-84 (Wikipedia; ODNB).
Porthouse, William (1878-1964), born Burgh-by-Sands, Cumberland, who worked for the Manchester Cororation on sewage and river management. A populariser of astronomy he lectured widely and made broadcasts. An important member of the Manchester Astronomical Society, he was active observer using a 13-inch reflector once owned by N. E. Green (Obit., QJRAS, 6 (1965), 249-50).
Roberts, Isaac (1829-1904), born at Groes, near Denbigh, North Wales, but at the age of 6 moved with his family to Liverpool. He amassed a fortune from building and contracting. In 1879 at his home in Rock Ferry, Birkenhead he obtained a 7-inch Cooke refractor. In 1882 he moved to ‘Kennessee’, Maghull, seven miles from Liverpool and there in 1883 began photography. See Maghull Observatory (below), and Sussex, Crowborough Observatory (see Wikipedia; ODNB & Sussex).
Sidgreaves, Walter (1837-1919), born in Grimsargh, near Preston, of a family with strong Jesuit connections. Walter taught at Stonyhurst College before being ordained in 1871. He was director of the Observatory there from 1863 to 1868, and during that time established the meteorological equipment and work for the Board of Trade. He worked closely with Father Stephen Perry, accompanied him on several expeditions, and upon Perry’s death in 1889 succeeded him as Director. He concentrated on stellar spectroscopy, and photography, and gained international recognition and honours (Wikipedia; ODNB).
Weld, Alfred (1823-1890), born Ludworth, England, educated at Stoneyhurst College. Science teacher who studied theology in 1851 and became director of the Observatory (1856-60) at Stoney College (Udias 2003; List of Fellows and Associates deceased Weld, Alfred, MNRAS, 51 (1891), 198-9).
Whitelow, Edward Turner (1854-1932) was born at Elland, Yorkshire. He became a civil engineer in Manchester, was elected FRAS 1893,sometime President of the Manchester Astronomical Society, member Liverpool Astronomical Society, Council member of the North West Branch of the BAA. In 1894 Whitelow purchased from George Knott’s estate the Alvan Clark 7⅓-inch OG which upon a Mertz mount had belonged to W.R. Dawes at his Haddenham, Bucks, Observatory; see Whitelow’s Birkdale Observatory, below (see Obituary Notices: Fellows:- Whitelow, Edward Turner, MNRAS, 93 (1933), 232-3).
Wilding, Richard (1842-1930) [FRAS], born Preston, a Lancashire cotton producer with an interest in astronomy. A founder member of the British Astronomical Association he was a keen on astrophotography and in 1898 was the society’s section director for the new discipline. To photograph the sky he used a 19-inch reflector with a 6-inch refractor as guide telescope and a 5-inch lens. After 1900 he moved from Lancashire to Kent where he lived for the rest of his life (see Kent).
Whittaker, Edmund Taylor (1873-1956), born at 7 Virginia Street, Southport. Educated at Manchester Grammar School, then Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating second wrangler in 1895 (see Dublin).
Wolfendale, Sir Arnold W. [FRS] (1927- ) born Rugby, astronomer who graduated from manchester University (see Durham; Warwickshire; Wiki; ‘Profile: Prof. Sir Arnold Wolfendale FRS’, A& G, 49 (2008), p.4.11).