Cambridge Astronomical Association
Cambridge Young Astronomers


Speaker Meeting

William Dawes and William Rutter Dawes
Friday 18th January 2019
Start time : 20:00

Speaker : Bob Marriott

William Dawes and William Rutter Dawes

William Dawes (17621836) was a marine, military engineer, mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, cartographer, botanist, linguist, teacher, abolitionist, and colonial governor. In his numerous endeavours he became closely acquainted with many great historical figures during the latter decades of the Age of Discovery: a period of global exploration dependent on astronomy, navigation, and scientific instruments. And yet he published nothing. What is known of him exists in a relatively small number of letters and documents, in accounts of him by his contemporaries, and in the wider historical record of the events in which he was involved. His son, William Rutter Dawes (17991868), was one of the foremost astronomers of the nineteenth century. Over more than forty years he owned and used telescopes by Clark, Cooke, Merz, and other makers, and had an international reputation as the doyen of refractors, The last of his instruments was an 8-inch Cooke the Thorrowgood refractor at Cambridge Observatory. His published works include solar, lunar, planetary, and cometary observations, micrometric measurements of double stars, and photometric studies.

Bob Marriott has pursued a passion for astronomy for as long as he can remember. His observational work has included lunar and planetary drawing, micrometric measurements of double stars, variable-star estimates, occultations, and observations of aurorae, comets, meteors, asteroids, and deep-sky objects. He has also carried out considerable research on the history of astronomy, and in particular the history of instruments. He served as BAA Curator of Instruments 19912016 and Director of the Instruments and Imaging Section 20032017.

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