Observatories: Essex

Bradley’s Observatory , Wanstead (1727-47), established by Revd. James Bradley and equipped with a Zenith Sector, 1727 (Howse 1986JHA, 17[51] (1986), pp. 82- ).

Felsted School Observatory (circa 1930/50s)

Leyton Observatory,  (1862-86), established by J. Gurney Barclay, with a 10-inch Cooke refractor for double star work (Illustration in Northrop, Observatories). In 1887 the refractor was given to the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford. In about 1835 it was donated to Marlborough College, Wiltshire, where it is now fully refurbished and working. The assistant from 1862-64 was Hermann Romberg, who had been trained by Encke, then left for Berlin. At Leyton he re-observed doubles from Struve’s Catalogue, small planets, and new comets. The results were published in 1865 by Barclay. He was succeeded on Hind’s recommendation for 1865-82 by C.G. Talmage, previously at Bishop’s Observatory, Regent’s Park, and before that directing Mr Coventry’s Observatory. Airy had suggested work on Jupiter satellites. Talmage abandoned the small planets, and concentrated entirely on observing Struve’s doubles, new comets, and the Jovian satellites. The Observatory closed when Talmage died.

Pound’s Observatory, Wanstead, (c.1717-47), established by James Pound.  Main instrument: 7.5-inch Refractor (Royal Society ‘aerial’telescope) by Huygens 1692.  In 1707 the astronomer Rev. James Pound became rector of Wanstead. In 1717 the Royal Society lent Pound Huygens’s 123-foot object-glass, which he set up in Wanstead Park. Pound’s observations with it of the five known satellites of Saturn enabled Halley to correct their movements; and Newton employed, in the third edition of the Principia, his micrometrical measures of Jupiter’s disc, of Saturn’s disc and ring, and of the elongations of their satellites; and obtained from him data for correcting the places of the comet of 1680. Laplace also used Pound’s observations of Jupiter’s satellites for the determination of the planet’s mass; and Pound himself compiled in 1719 a set of tables for the first satellite, into which he introduced an equation for the transmission of light

Pound trained his sister’s son, James Bradley, and many of their observations were made together, including the opposition of Mars in 1719, and the transit of Mercury on 29 October 1723. Their measurement of γ Virginis in 1718 was the first made of the components of a double star and was directed towards the determination of stellar parallax. In 1727, Bradley embarked upon a series of observations using a telescope of his own erected at the rectory in Wanstead, now the site of Wanstead High School. This instrument had the advantage of a large field of view and he was able to obtain precise positions of a large number of stars that transited close to the zenith over the course of about two years. This established the existence of the phenomenon of aberration of light, and also allowed Bradley to formulate a set of rules that would allow the calculation of the effect on any given star at a specified date (Howse 1986; JHA, 17[51] (1986), p.82- )

Mobberley’s Observatory, Gt Baddow, Chelmsford (1991-2008), established by Martin Mobberley.  The main Instrumentis a 19-inch (0.49m) Newtonian reflector housed in a roll off shed (Moore 1996, 177-86).

Tomkins’s Observatory, East House, East Lane, Dedham (c.1924-34), established by Herbert Gerald Tomkins (1869-1934) with a 24-inch Cassegrain reflector for lunar photography (see Orwell Astronomy Society: History section [http://www.oasi.org.uk])..