The story of Glasgow’s astronomical societies begins in 1809 when the Glasgow Society for Promoting Astronomical Science was inaugurated. Ambitious plans were prepared for an Observatory to cost £1,500 and a site was chosen on Garnethill. The Convenor, Dr Andrew Ure, went to Largs to confer with Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane and also went to London to confer with leading scientists of the day. The Observatory was built - an ornate Egyptian-style building, equipped with some excellent instruments. However, the Society ran out of funds, the Observatory was surrounded by new building and became unsuitable for its purpose. The Society was disbanded in 1822 and some of the instruments were identified as being sold off although others just ‘disappeared’. Around 1830-32 the building was demolished.
A West of Scotland Branch of the British Astronomical Society was founded in 1894 and based in Glasgow. The inaugural meeting took place on 23 November that year when members were addressed by E. W. Maunder, founder of the BAA and Editor of the Journal. His subject was ‘In Pursuit of a Shadow’ - an account of the recent eclipse expedition.
The first of the Branch visits was to the then new Observatory at Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, where they were conducted personally over the buildings by the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, and received from him much valuable information about the instruments. (The Society continues to have annual outings to places of astronomical interest and has returned on a number of occasions to the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh).
For some years the Branch continued to have a relatively small membership although the high standard of the papers read and the subjects treated was well maintained. In 1904, the Branch requested permission to enrol associated not directly connected with the BAA. The resulting increase in membership was so great that it was found necessary to seek a new meeting place. In October 1905, the Branch met for the first time in the new buildings of the Royal Technical College, Glasgow. (This association has happily been maintained and to this day the Society meets within the University of Strathclyde). Also about 1905, the Branch obtained authority to enrol members resident in any part of Scotland and eventually in 1937, the name was changed to ‘Scottish Branch’.
The Branch celebrated its silver jubilee in September 1919 and although the War was over, railway restrictions still prevailed and prevented a visit to the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. Later on, a second World War was to affect the membership and attendance at meetings, but throughout this difficult period there was no interruption to the programme of the Branch.
Accounts of the meetings make interesting reading. For example, Professor A. D. Rowes of the University of Western Australia, while on a visit to this country, gave a paper on Star Groups; by contrast, a novelty was reading of a paper by Mr. J. R. Simpson on references to astronomy in the poems of Robert Burns! (Indeed, Mr David Sinden and his brother, Mr Frederick Sinden, presented the 1996 O'Neill lecture entitled 'The Stars o' Robert Burns').
With the close of the session 1943-44, the Branch completed fifty years of useful life and this was celebrated, amongst other things, by the re-election of Professor Smart to the Jubilee Chair. There was a civic reception in the City Chambers, and a Dinner was held. The Astronomer Royal, Sir Harold Spencer-Jones, addressed the Branch.
About ten years later, it was decided to wind up the Branch and reconstitute it as The Astronomical Society of Glasgow, affiliated to the BAA. This took effect on 30th April 1954.
Thanks to Margaret Morris
An Asteroid named 'Glasgow'
The Asteroid was discovered on 18 December 1985 by Dr Edward Bowell at the Anderson Mesa Station of the Lowell observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Originally recorded as Minor Planet No. 5805, it was officially redesignated 'GLASGOW' on 19 October 1994 for both the City and the Astronomical Society of Glasgow.
This event was publicly announced on 23 November, 1994 at a civic dinner marking the 100th Anniversary of the Society, hosted by Glasgow City Council.
The asteroids are minor planets which lie between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. By 1868 only a hundred asteroids had been found, but now the list contains tens of thousands.
Asteroid 'GLASGOW' orbits the sun at semimajor axis 2.6AU, has an modest eccentricity of 0.11 and an inclination of 12 degrees. Its diameter is about 19 km if a C-class asteroid or 10 km if S-class (equally likely). Thus its surface area is larger than that of the city for which it is named.
Malcolm Kennedy wrote the following poem to celebrate the naming of Minor planet No. 5805 to Glasgow.
and did not have a name -
A nonentity known just as five eight zero five
Until GLASGOW I became
Now I'll orbit in the wintertime
and the summertime also;
And my presence will let members of the ASG
Be surrounded by a rosey, rosey GLOW!
An Asteroid named 'Archieroy'
The Asteroid was discovered on 11 January 1986 by Dr Edward Bowell at the Anderson Mesa Station of the Lowell observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Originally recorded as Minor Planet No. 5806, it was officially redesignated 'Archieroy' on 19 October 1994 in honour of Archibald Edmiston Roy (1924-2012), Scottish Astrophysicist, teacher, writer and President of the Astronomical Society of Glasgow.
Asteroid 5806 'ARCHIEROY' is a somewhat unusual Hungaria-type asteroid orbiting at 1.96 AU with an eccentricity of 0.04 and an inclination of 21 degrees. It is likely to be an 'E' Class asteroid of 5 km diameter.
An Asteroid named 'Kennedy 7166'
The Asteroid was discovered on 15 October 1985 by Dr Edward Bowell at the Anderson Mesa Station of the Lowell observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
The asteroid was named 'KENNEDY 7166' on 8 August, 1998 by the International Astronomical Union in memory of Malcolm Kennedy (1944-1997), Secretary of the Astronomical Society of Glasgow, who died in a road accident in Hungary, November 1997, on a mercy mission carrying aid to eastern Europe.
It is with the greatest sadness that the Council of the Society must announce the death of our friend, long-standing member and Treasurer, Dr. Tom Clackson. Tom was cycling to the Botanic Gardens on Sunday 27th September 2015 to help with our Sun over the Botanics outreach event when he collapsed. The best efforts of the Park Rangers, Scottish Ambulance Service and The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital could not revive him. We have lost a dear friend, enthusiastic and exceptionally valued Council member and an expert in so many things astronomical. Tom's funeral will be held at 10.30 am on Tuesday 13th October at Clydebank Crematorium, Mountblow Road, Clydebank G81 4SL. Our thoughts are with Tom's wife Anne at this difficult time.
Following the untimely death of long standing member and past President, Mr Eric Tomney, the Society was bequeathed a generous sum of money to be used solely for the construction of an observatory building for use by members. The Society formed a sub-committee of the ASG Council to plan the building of the observatory, to be known as the "Eric Tomney Memorial Observatory" or ETMO for brevity, and work on this is now ongoing.
As the Society already uses Mugdock Country Park for dark skies observing it was decided to approach the park administrators, East Dunbartonshire Council. A presentation to the Mugdock Country Park Joint Management Board was made and received positive responses leading to an approval to progress the project to the planning stage. A firm of architects have been engaged, plans have been drawn up for a two-dome observatory and a planning application has been submitted and approved by Stirlingshire Council.
For members' information, although most of Mugdock lies within East Dunbartonshire, who act as the park administrators, a small area in the north of the park, containing the Visitor Centre and our proposed site, lies within Stirlingshire. Thus, the need to have initial approval from the Joint Board of Councillors from both districts was required before we could apply for planning permission from the land owners, Stirlingshire Council.
Work on finalising the building design to integrate with domes from our chosen supplier has been completed, and a building warrant has been applied for. Once this is granted, a contractor will be engaged by the architects to price and build the observatory.
Astronomical Society of Glasgow,
The Astronomical Society of Glasgow is the largest Astronomical Society in Scotland, and is dedicated to promoting an interest in Astronomy.
The Society has been promoting Astronomy in Glasgow for over 100 years. Membership of the Society is open to all; and anyone, even with the vaguest interests in Astronomy, is welcome to find out what the Society is about.
We are a member of the British Association of Planetaria, affiliated to the British Astronomical Association and the Scottish Astronomers' Group. The society is a member of the Federation of Astronomical Societies, and is a registered Scottish charity (Charity Number SCO15035).
The Society holds nine regular monthly lecture meetings from September through to May each year. Lectures are held in the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow city centre at 7.30pm, normally on the third Thursday of each month, however this does occasionally change to allow us to welcome some of our speakers who have busy schedules.
All topics of Astronomy are covered in the lectures from Planetary Science to Astrophotography and The Search for Life Beyond Earth. The lectures are free and are open to members and non-members alike. Prior to each meeting a Newsletter is circulated to the Membership giving details of the speaker, the lecture topic and other matters of timely interest.
We also have a number of observing evenings for our members, where we can take advantage of the 16" Meade LX200 telescope at University of Glasgow's Acre Road observatory, as well as some darker skies observing evenings at Mugdock country park just outside Glasgow.
The Society is also involved in a number of outreach events, bringing Astronomy to the people of Glasgow and further afield. We have regular meetings for the public at the Botanical Gardens in Glasgow where we provide a number of telescopes, and the knowledge of the members to allow the public to look through them to see the craters on the moon, planets and distant stars. If the skies aren't clear, then we will share our knowledge with presentations and talks on various astronomy topics.
See you there,
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