Observatories: Roxburghshire

Makerstoun Astronomical and Magnetic Observatories (Balfour 1860, viii)

Brisbane Observatory (1826-60), Makerstoun, Kelso, erected by Sir Thomas Brisbane (1773-1860) Brisbane was born at Brisbane House in Noddsdale, near Largs in Ayrshire, Scotland, the son of Sir Thomas Brisbane and Dame Eleanora Brisbane.Appointed Governor of New South Wales in 1821, he took all his instruments and two astronomical assistants, Carl Ludwig Christian Rümker and James Dunlop to New South Wales with him, first properly equipped Australian observatory at Parramatta. While waiting for Macquarie to complete his final arrangements, interested himself in making astronomical observations. In 1822 he established an observatory at Parramatta west of Sydney. In 1828 he won the RAS Gold Medal. He published The Brisbane Catalogue of 7,385 stars of the Southern Hemisphere in 1835.

In 1826 he returned and retired on his wife’s estate, Makerstoun, near Kelso, where he built another observatory to house a new 6¼-inch Merz object glass mounted by Troughton & Simms. The object glass alone cost £400. He had four clocks which cost 1,200 guineas, and employed an assistant.  In 1842 Brisbane established the first magnetic and meteorological observatory in Scotland at the same site (see David Gavine thesis, p. 279; Ken Weitzenhoffer, ‘General Thomas Brisbane’s Astronomical Adventures’, S&T (December, 1992), 620-22; see Howse 1986).

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