Barbour, William Donald (1832-1902), born in Glasgow (see Yorkshire for further details)

Dansken , John (1836-1905), born in Glasgow 1836. Educated at Glasgow University, trained and worked as a surveyor. Enthusiastic amateur astronomer, who built a private observatory that contained a 13-inch reflector, several refractors and a transit instrument. He also formed a valuable collection of astronomical books. He was elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1892 (see obit. MNRAS, 66, 174).

Herschel, Alexander Stewart (1836–1907), born Feldhausen, nr. Cape Town, the 5th child of Sir John Herschel.  Natural philosophy lecturer at Anderson’s College, Glasgow (1866-71). (see Buckinghamshire; County of LondonODNB; Obid. MNRAS, 68 (1908), 231-3).

Macdonald, Thomas Logie (1901-1973), born in Scotland. Director of the BAA Lunar Section 1938-1945. He attempted to shift the BAA Lunar Section’s from ever finer cartography, to a more scientific and analytical programme, but war intervened and the Section became moribund with less than a dozen members. He remained an active observer and contributor until the 1960s. See: Bill Leatherbarrow, ‘The Amateur’s Moon’, JBAA, 123, 3 (June 2013), pp. 147-8.

McClean, Frank (1837-1904), born Glasgow, educated at Cambridge, inherited money and built an observatory at Ferncliffe, Kent, 1875. Astronomer and educational benefactor – especially by establishing the three Isaac Newton studentships at Cambridge, with powerful effect in consolidation Cambridge’s lead in British astrophysics (see ODNB)


Airdrie Public Observatory (55° 51′ 56″ N, 03° 58′ 58″ W) is in the town of Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. The observatory is open to the public by request, and is housed in Airdrie Public Library. Installed on the roof of the first purpose-built library building in 1896, it is the smallest, and second oldest, of four public observatories operating in the UK, all of which are sited in Scotland. The present library building was opened in 1925. The main instrument is a 6″ Cooke refractor built in 1845 from a donation by Janes Lewis FRAS, which replaced an original 3″ instrument donated by Dr. Reid in 1896. A new copper dome was installed in 2009 as part of a major £500,000 refurbishment of the Library roof.  The observatory is owned and funded by North Lanarkshire Council and operated on their behalf by Airdrie Astronomical Association (AAA), a Scottish astronomy society and registered charity. Current honorary curators are Arthur Bannister and Gavin Bain.

Garnet Hill Observatory (1808-1826), Glasgow, established by Glasgow Society for promoting Astronomical Observation, since demolished (see Howse 1986).

Horselethill Observatory (1841-1938), taken over by the University in 1845 and all University instruments relocated there; closed 1938. Professor Robert Grant was observer 1860-92, an accomplished observer, produced two catalogues. In 1863 he was enabled to purchase the 9″ Cooke equatorial of 1861, from the Ochtertyre Observatory. He was succeeded by Ludwig Becker 1892-1935 who effected some refurbishment, but worked without assistance for ten years. The site. Now engulfed by the city, was appalling for smoke and pollution, and spectroscopy was impossible.
The University Gardens Observatory was established in 1938 as a teach observatory for Professor William Smart, equipped with a 7″ refractor and a small transit (see Howse 1986).

Macfarlane Observatory, (1757-1844), Dowhill, in the College grounds, to house a bequest of instruments (see Howse 1986).

University of Glasgow Observatory
See: the excellent
The most ancient academic observatory in the UK.

Societies and Organisations

Astronomical Society of Glasgow (ASG), founded in the 1900s to promote an interest in astronomy.  The largest group in Scotland,  the ASG hold monthly (3rd Thurs), lecture meetings (May-Sept.) at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow city centre. Observing sessions are held at the University of Glasgow’s Acre Road observatory & at Mugdock country park just outside Glasgow.

Clydesdale Astronomical Society (ClAS), founded 2006.  Members meet monthly (2nd Mon., Sept.-Jun.) at the Bankhall, Climpy road, Forth.


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