Ball, Sir Robert Stawell (1840-1913) Born in Dublin, graduated from Trinity College, Ball’s first involvement with practical astronomy when he was appointed tutor to the sons of Lord Rosse, where he had charge of the “Leviathan of Parsontown”, Rosse’s giant 72″ reflector. Later he was to become Ireland’s Astronomer Royal which coincided with his directorship of Dunsink Observatory and his position as Andrews Professor of Astronomy. He was at Dunsink from 1874 until 1892, when he applied for and obtained the position of Lowndean Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge. He lived at Cambridge observatory until his death in 1913 (see ODNB; ‘Obituary: Sir Robert Stawell Ball’,Obs., 37 (1914), 35-41)
Monck, William Henry Stanley (1839-1915) a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, a barrister, in 1878 he became Professor of Moral Philosophy there. A keen amateur astronomer, he had a fine 7.5-inch refractor with object glass by Alvan Clark previously owned by W.R. Dawes. Monck was a close friend of J. Ellard Gore. Monck made photoelectric observations of Jupiter and Venus, and then developed a system for measuring the relative brightness of binary stars (JBAA, 123, 2 (2013) 91-2) from his observatory at Earlsfort Terrace (see WIKI; ‘Obituary Notices: Fellows:- Monck…’, MNRAS, 76 (1916), 264 ).
Robinson, Thomas Romney (1793 – 1882), born Dublin, educated Belfast Academy and Trinity College, Dublin. Director of Armagh Observatory (1823-82) which he developed into one of the foremost institutions in Ireland (ODNB; WIKI).
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. In 1906 he was appointed Professor of Astronomy in the University of Dublin, Royal astronomer of Ireland, and Director of Dunsink Observatory. He concentrated on his lectures in the university, and in 1912 was elected to the chair of mathematics in Edinburgh. At Dunsink he had also worked to achieve satisfactory photometry of stars using the photographic capability of the 15-inch Roberts telescope, work that was continued by Plummer and Martin. Accurate light curves for bright variable stars were derived, and this assisted Eddington in Cambridge to develop his theory of stellar structure (Wikipedia; ODNB ).
Dunsink Observatory, opened in 1785, was the first building in Ireland specifically constructed for scientific research. It was where Ireland’s greatest mathematician and one of her greatest scientists, William Rowan Hamilton, lived and worked. And it was the place where the time standard for Ireland was set using astronomical observations until the first world war. Dunsink time is mentioned several times in James Joyce’s great novel Ulysses, and in 2012 the clocks used are still on display in the Observatory. Originally part of Trinity College Dublin, the Observatory was purchased by the state in 1947 when the School of Cosmic Physics was being established as part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (Howse 1986). For some time under threat, happily in 2012 the observatory is used mainly for public outreach, small workshops and conferences, and as visitor accommodation for the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Open nights for star gazing are held twice monthly.