Weir, Thomas, FRAS (1843-1908), born Greenock, later an engineer at Greenock Foundry before moving to Manchester where he was an active member of the BAA NW branch. Solar eclipse expeditions to Vadso 1896 and Plasencia 1900.
Coats Observatory, Oakshaw Street West, Paisley, 1883-
Coats Observatory is one of the four public observatories in Scotland and was gifted to the people of Paisley by thread manufacturer Thomas Coats and designed by Glasgow Architect John Honeyman, Coats Observatory opened in October 1883. The Observatory cost £6,000 including £2,000 endowment, a similar endowment being added later. The observatory was operated by the Paisley Philosophical Institution, which had been founded on 8 October 1808. The design incorporated many impressive features of Victorian architecture including wrought iron work from the Saracen Foundry in Possilpark, Glasgow, carvings by John Young and stained glass windows featuring Galileo, Kepler and William Herschel.
It was equipped with a 5½” triple objective photo-visual refractor by Cooke, and in 1897 a 10″ Grubb refractor was added. Other equipment included an orrery, spectroscope and a transit telescope. Meteorological recording was undertaken on a daily basis, and has continued uninterrupted to the present day. David Gavine summarized that “little serious work was done, because it was in the middle of the town” (Gavine, Thesis, p. 267).This telescope is still in use at the observatory, as is the original Cooke telescope. That year also saw the addition of a pavilion to the rear of the observatory complex which housed additional astronomical and scientific apparatus and also seismic recording equipment. The pavilion went out of use circa 1930 and was demolished in 1969, but Coats Observatory continues to function as a seismic monitoring station for British Geological Survey. The observatory also has a planetarium.
Management of the observatory was transferred to Paisley District Council in 1963 and is now operated by Renfrewshire Council. Coats Observatory is open on a daily basis (except Monday) and runs evening viewing nights throughout the winter months. Renfrewshire Astronomical Society meet there on a Friday evening throughout the year.
Societies and Organisations
Renfrewshire Astronomical Society (RenAS), founded(?). Members hold monthly/weekly lecture/informal meetings at the Lecture Hall, Paisley Museum, Paisley (PA1 2BA).