Breen, James  (5 July 1826 – 25 August 1866), He started work at Greenwich at age 16 as a calculator – His father Hugh also worked there. Later he went to Cambridge as an assistant astronomer to James Challis from 1846-58. He died in London of consumption.

Davidson, Martin, Rev. (1880-1968), born Armagh, Northern Ireland.  Studied mathematics at Queens University, Belfast before  entering the church.  He studied orbital dynamics and thence the orbits of meteors. He joined both the British Astronomical Association becoming president (1936-8) and the Royal Astronomical Society in 1911 (see obit. Irish Astronomical Journal, 9, 170 &  JBAA,124 (4),187-97).

Ellison, William Frederick Archdall, Rev.(1864 April 28 – 1936 December 31) Studied classics at Trinity College Dublin in 1883. Took Holy Orders in 1890 and moved to Monkwearmouth, Sunderland. Returned to Ireland in 1899 and by 1908 was in Wexford where he set up his first observatory. Became a proficient lens and mirror maker and wrote on these subjects in ATM, JBAA & the English Mechanic. Wrote a book entitled “The Amateur’s Telescope” on the subject in 1920. Was appointed to the directorship of the Armagh Observatory on 1918 September 2 and when he found the observatory in a very run down state set about restoring it. In early 1919 he deeded one of his own telescopes to the observatory, an 18 inch reflector.

Hardcastle, Joseph A. (1868-1917), William Herschel’s great grandson, was born in Harrow. For a time the Duke of Marlborough’s 10-feet Herschel reflector (now in the Whipple Museum) was loaned to Hardcastle. Of independent means, a lecturer in astronomy for Cambridge and Oxford extension, he worked as a volunteer for periods with Professor Turner at the Oxford Observatory. In 1903 he moved to Crowthorne, Berks, at the invitation of S.A. Saunder, to help him with his lunar map. There Hardcastle made more than 20,000 micrometer measurements with an instrument loaned by Turner, a contribution to a lunar map of enduring value. The map is generally credited to Saunder, but Hardcastle deserves equal credit (see Bennett 1990, 172-3; ‘Obituary Notices…’, MNRAS, 78 (1918), 246-8); Middlesex).

Marsh, Narcissus (1638-1713), born Hannington, nr. Highworth, archbishop of Armagh who had an interest in comets and scientific instruments (see ODNB).


Armagh Observatory – Founded 1789

Directors:   James Hamilton (1790-1815); William Davenport (1815-1823); Thomas Romney Robinson (1823-1882); John Louis Emil Dreyer (1882-1916); Joseph Hardcastle (1917); William Ellison (1918-1936); Eric Lindsay (1937-1974); Mart de Groot 1976-1994; Mark Bailey (1995- ).

Specialises in stellar astrophysics, the Sun and solar system astronomy and is located near the centre of the city of Armagh, Northern Ireland (see Howse 1986).

Armagh Planetarium

The planetarium was established by Eric Lindsay, seventh Director of the nearby Armagh Observatory in 1965 at a cost of £120 000. Patrick Moore oversaw construction and was first planetarium director. The original projector was a ‘Goto Mars’ and retired in 1977 to be re-used at the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester, Sussex. Armagh Planetarium went on to pioneer the use of video projectors. There was a major refurbishment in 2006.


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