Wilson, Alexander (1714-1786), born at St Andrews. He graduated from the university there. He invented, and developed a business in type manufacturing for printing. His interests in natural philosophy led him to being appointed in 1760 the first Professor of Practical Astronomy at the University of Glasgow, with charge of the Dowanhill Observatory. There he observed the transit of Venus, Jupiter’s satellites, eclipses and occultations. He studied sunspots, and in 1769 made his discovery of the Wilson Effect. He had deduced from geometrical calculation that the spots were cavities or depressions in the solar surface (See: ODNB).
St Andrew’s Observatory (1672- ?)
See: James Gregory. The building stood south-east of the Library until the 19th-century when it was demolished.
St Andrews University Observatory (1939- ?)
Sir Peter Scott Lang (1850-1926), Emeritus Professor of Mathemaitcs, had long wished to encourage astronomy. He bequeathed money to found a Dept. of Astronomy. In 1936 his daughter Edith founded the Napier Lectureship in Astronomy, and the first appointee was Dr E. Finlay-Freundlich. Building started in 1941 and the University observatory was first equipped with a 4-inch refractor borrowed from the Royal Institute. A 10-inch Cooke refractor of 1871 (formerly owned by James Worthington of Winchester), and a coelostat were purchased. The Cooke was transferred to the Mills Observatory in the early 1950s, because between 1948-50 a 15/19-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain was built. In 1952 the staff started building the James Gregory Telescope, a 30/36-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain. It was completed in 1962, the largest optical telescope built in Scotland. In 1959 the Napier Chair of Astronomy was endowed.