Observatories: Warwickshire

Shuckburgh Observatory (1791-1804), established by Sir George Augustus WilliamShuckburgh-Evelyn with a 4.1-inch Ramsden equatorial of 1792 – the famed ‘Shuckburgh Equatorial’ passed to the ROG in 1811. Also a clock of 1791 by Arnold (Howse 1986).

Temple Observatory (1871- ),  Rugby School. In 1871-72 the school obtained the famed 8¼-inch Alvan Clark equatorial of 1859 that had belonged to William Rutter Dawes. Work commenced on doubles, achieving 0.5 arc sec resolution, and a catalogue was published in 1875.  Meanwhile, land was purchased, and in October 1877 the Observatory completed together with a Curator’s house, at a cost of £1,234 of which the Observatory cost £458. The Observatory also had a 12⅛-inch With reflector, a 15-inch reflector, and a heliostat. The Observatory was directed by James M. Wilson (1836-1931; teacher in maths and natural science) and then by George Mitchell Seabroke (1838-1919; President of the BAA in 1900). In its time it was a world-class observatory for double star work, and corresponded with S.W. Burnham and Otto Struve. From 1873 in co-operation with Joseph Gledhill who used a 9⅓-inch Cooke, observations led to A Handbook of Double Stars, with a Catalogue of Twelve Hundred Double Stars and Extensive Lists of Measures (London, Macmillan, 1879). This was an extraordinary achievement by Crossley, Gledhill and Wilson – the first of its kind to give name, synomyn, RA and Dec (1880), magnitude and colours, and a short history. Seabroke continued at rugby and produced seven more catalogues by 1910.  Using the With reflector and heliostat, an intense programme of visual and spectroscopic observations of the Sun had been made in liaison with J.N. Lockyer. Papers were published in MNRAS and Proc.R.S., and some were cited by G.E. Hale in his 1890 thesis. This work was discontinued when the ROG began solar work. The Temple Observatory re-opened after refurbishment in late 2011 (Marriott 1991; Stroobant 1931).

Chesterton Windmill – the man who probably commissioned it, local grandee Sir Edward Peyto, was an astrologer and astronomer, and there’s a tradition that the building was originally an observatory that he used to look at the stars – presumably the rotating top, turned by means of a hand winch, housed Peyto’s telescope.

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