The first century of modern, observatory-based astronomy in Ireland spans some of the most fundamental changes in the character and practice of the discipline. From the founding of the first university professorship in the subject in 1783 to the early career of the solar physicist William E. Wilson, astronomy moved from a preoccupation with position measurement and planetary dynamics, through the spectacular achievements of the builders of giant reflectors, to the new intellectual and instrumental challenges of astrophysics. That Irish astronomers contributed profoundly to all of these developments makes it possible to offer a lecture telling two stories at once: how astronomy changed as a discipline and how dramatic and exciting work in Ireland provides a special perspective on these changes.
Thanks to the work of historians of science in Ireland, major books now take us through the different stages in this narrative and it is possible to consider its overarching character and significance.
Professor Jim Bennett is a historian of science who has worked mainly on the physical sciences and practical mathematics, and their intersection in astronomy. He concluded his career in universities and museums as Director of the Museum of the History of Science and Professor of the History of Science in the University of Oxford. He is currently President of the Hakluyt Society.
Following this talk in the RDS Library Speaker Series a reception and book launch will take place in the Library to mark publication of, 'William E. Wilson (The Work and Family of a Westmeath Astronomer', by Ian Elliott and Charles Mollan. The book is Number 5 in the RDS Science and Irish Culture Series.
Exclusive offer to RDS Members:
RDS Members who book for the talk and attend will be entered for a free draw with a chance to win a copy of the William E Wilson book. The draw will take place after the talk by Professor Bennett on February 15.
The above talk is admission free but prior booking is essential.
Voluntary donations by attendees to assist in covering costs are welcomed.