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Reflections on the Astronomy of GlasgowA story of some 500 years$
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David Clarke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748678891

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748678891.001.0001

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The Glory of Glasgow

The Glory of Glasgow

(p.187) Chapter 7 The Glory of Glasgow
Reflections on the Astronomy of Glasgow

David Clarke

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter covers the life of Robert Grant, the 6th Regius Professor of Astronomy from 1859 to 1892. Being infirm in his childhood, he was essentially self-educated and burgeoned through avid reading of astronomy books in the Paris libraries and then producing an acclaimed treatise on the ‘History of Physical Astronomy’. With Admiral Smyth, he was co-author of a translation from the French of Arago's ‘Popular Astronomy’. Taken under the wing of Sir George B. Airy, the Astronomer Royal, he became expert on the use of the transit telescope. On taking the post at Glasgow he had the strength of purpose to establish fully the Ertel telescope bought by Nichol and to operate it under difficult climatic conditions to make stellar transit measurements, so producing the ‘Glasgow Catalogue of 6415 Stars’ which had international importance in relation to the determination of stellar proper motions. He also established the 9-inch Ochtertyre refractor to complete the observing facilities. Although not required to teach, he presented regular courses for science students and engineers and he also offered popular lectures at the Observatory. Even before the formal registration for female students was allowed, he encouraged ladies to attend.

Keywords:   Robert Grant, ‘History of Physical Astronomy’, Arago's ‘Popular Astronomy’, Stellar transit measurements, Stellar proper motions, 9-inch Ochtertyre refractor, Glasgow Catalogue of 6415 Stars

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