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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 [ElO] (1852-65), Wester Elchies House, (nr, Archiestown) Knockando parish, was  established  by James William Grant (1788-1865). After returning from India and retiring from the East India Company in 1849, and erected on his estate a fine granite observatory with an entrance guarded by sphinxes. This housed his ‘Trophy Telescope’, a 11-inch refractor with optics by Ross of London and mounting supplied by Ransome & May. The telescope was conspicuous in 1851 in the nave of the Great Exhibition. Its use was hampered by the wet climate and Grant’s growing ill-health.  Piazzi Smyth found its performance satisfactory when he observed double stars at  Elchies in the autumn of 1862. After Grant’s death the telescope was sold to William Livingstone Watson  who installed it his Aytoun observatory at Abernethy, Perthshire while the building remained until 1947 (Gavine 1981, 270-3).

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.

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