Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Maunder on the history and work of the ROG

Rebekah Higgitt says.....
A great place to get an idea of how the Royal Observatory in Greenwich operated in the late 19th century is E. Walter Maunder's Royal Observatory, Greenwich: a Glance at its History and Work published by the Religious Tract Society in 1900. It's the source for several of the images that I've used already in the blog. The full text can be found online in several formats at the Internet Archive.

E. Walter Maunder, in a 1905 photograph published in Hector Macpherson's 'Astronomers of Today'.Maunder (1851-1928) was the Observatory's Photographic and Spectroscopic Assistant. He was appointed in 1873 when this was a new post and a new department for the Observatory. He's probably best known for his statistical analysis of the sunspot photographs for which he was responsible. Using old records, including those of John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, he highlighted the dearth of sunspot activity in the period between 1645 and 1715. This phenomenon was later named the Maunder minimum. Maunder also worked on spectroscopy, including making observations with Christie (who was Chief Assistant before becoming Astronomer Royal in 1881) to measure the radial velocity of stars.

In addition, Maunder was an active member of the Royal Astronomical Society and a founder of the British Astronomical Association - he also wrote many books and articles aimed at a popular audience. His second wife, Annie Scott Dill Russell (1868–1947), was also an astronomer who he met when she worked at the ROG between 1891 and 1895. This was the only brief period during which women worked at the Observatory in the 19th century (see notes for further details). She retired when they married in 1895, he retired in 1913, although both came back to work during the First World War.

No comments:

Post a Comment