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Grant, Robert (1814-1892), born at Grantown-on-Spey. He received some astronomical training in Paris, and in London through the RAS made his name by writing the History of Physical Astronomy (1852), in which his account of the discovery of Neptune was sympathetic to the English astronomers. On Airy’s recommendation he was appointed in 1860 to the Regius Chair at Glasgow, with direction of its observatory. There despite all difficulties he achieved two catalogues, including a number of proper motions.

Murdoch, James (1809-fl.1851), born in Garmouth, Elgin, wood merchant and astronomer (see 1851 Scottish Census).


Elchies Observatory (c.1850-65), established in Knockando parish, in the grounds of Wester Elchies mansion by its owner James William Grant (1788-1865). He returned to his estate in 1849, and erected at Elchies a fine observatory in granite, the entrance guarded by sphinxes. Here was placed the “Trophy Telescope”, conspicuous in 1851 in the nave of the Great Exhibition, and the first large equatorial telescope erected in Scotland (Keith Murray’s 9-inch was the next). The 11-inch object-glass was by Ross, the mount by Ransome & May. Grant’s use of it was hampered by the climate and growing ill-health; but Professor Piazzi Smyth found its performance excellent in a set of observations on double stars made at Elchies in the autumn of 1862 (MNRAS, 23, 1862, pp.1-2). It was sold in 1864 to Mr. Aytoun of Glenfarg, Perthshire.

Astronomy Groups

Moray’s Astronomy Club – SIGMA (MAC) founded 2000. Members meet monthly (1st Fri.) at Birnie Village Hall, Thomshill with observing at nearby Easterton Airfield, Birnie.

Moray Astronomical Society (MAS) founded (?). Became the Highland Astronomical Society after merger with the Inverness Astronomical Society in 1994.

2 Responses to Morayshire

  1. Robert Baird-Trotter says:

    In the “Observatory” 1910 33…383D in “Letters of Dawes to Knott” is reproduced Dawes letter of 19 Feb. 1863.
    Dawes writes ” I was surprised to learn that the Elchies O.G. was a Munich one! I always thought it was a Ross or Dallmyer…”
    Is this generally Known?
    Bob Trotter
    Western Australia

    • Bart Fried says:

      Hi Bob,

      I gave a presentation about this telescope a few years ago at an ATS convention. There is no real definitive information about the lens maker. Piazzi-Smyth is the original source of the Munich comment but he offered no further information. It could also be that the glass was sourced from Germany, but that the lens was produced in England. If you or anyone wants a copy of my powerpoint, just email me.

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