These web pages present information relating to the history
of Astronomy in Wales. We include here astronomical activities
carried out by people in Wales, or by people with a strong
connection with the country. If you have come to these web
pages with an interest in the history of astronomy
in general, you have come to the wrong place: these pages
are intended to be specialised and are devoted to historical
astronomical activities associated with only one small part of
the world. The subjects discussed here are intentionally specialised,
It may be true that Wales has not had the same impact in
astronomy over the past few centuries as the other nations
of the British Isles. Nevertheless, the country has seen
much interesting activity relating to observing and
understanding the Universe.
The story of Astronomy
in Wales is rich with the work of amateur astronomers.
However, the subject is not limited
to observing the skies as a hobby: it also includes contributions
to original scientific research.
Most notably, a pioneer of long-exposure imaging in astronomy -
one of the most important techniques in modern astronomical science -
was Isaac Roberts, who came originally from Denbighshire. Some of the
very first astronomical observations using the telescope anywhere
were made from Carmarthenshire, at the same time that Galileo turned his
telescope to the skies in Italy. The bright galaxy M64 was
observed for the first time from the Vale of Glamorgan.
Important early work on the stability of gas in stars
and of the role of magnetic fields in sunspots was carried
out in the University of Wales.
A dedicated page presents an
overview of published summaries
of the subject.
Unfortunately, there are no modern books or articles that provide
an overview of the history of astronomical science in Wales.
It is therefore necessary to turn to older, out of print sources.
For a general review of the subject, the best starting
point is Chapter 24 (Seryddiaeth yng Nghymru)
of the book Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr,
Welsh by the Rev. J. S. Evans, published by William Lewis
Ltd., Cardiff, in 1923. This chapter summarises the subject in
52 pages, placing emphasis on the people associated with
astronomy and Wales, from the 16th century to the early
20th century. Copies of Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr can be
found in some public and university libraries, and if you are
really lucky, in second-hand bookhops.
To make this resource more widely available,
an HTML version of Chapter 24
is provided here.
For those who are not able
to read the original Welsh,
a translation into English is available
produced by Rhys Morris.
An eight-page chapter about the history of astronomy in Wales
appeared in the Welsh-language book Gwyddonwyr o Gymru
by O. E. Roberts, published by the University of Wales Press in 1956.
Finding other information is not so easy. Short biographies of
individual people can be obtained in the Dictionary of
Welsh Biography, which can be found in many public libraries
in Wales, and a few in the British Dictionary of National
As for the history of astronomy world-wide, an excellent, but outdated,
web resource is the
Astronomiae Historia database, including links to
a very large number of authoritative web pages.
The purpose of these Web pages
Because it is often difficult to find information from a wide range
of sources, these web pages attempt to present some highlights
about the history of Astronomy in Wales in a single place.
The author has often been asked about the subject, but
published information to guide people to has been very limited.
These pages are intended to provide a convenient reference source in the
The author hopes that these pages will interest more people
in the subject and, in particular, will encourage people to
carry out their own historical research and to bring their
results into the public domain. The field has been neglected for
many decades. There are many historical investigations
that could be carried out, in particular by the Welsh amateur astronomy
community. Anybody who has useful information on the subject is
welcome to contact the author of these pages. Above all, the
amateur astronomical community in Wales is urged to take up this
Bryn Jones would like to thank Rhys Morris (formerly of the
University of Wales Cardiff, now of the University of Bristol)
for consenting to
use his translation of Chapter 24 of Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr,
and to Dr. Gabrielle Allen (formerly of the
University of Wales Cardiff, now of the Department of Computer Science
at Louisiana State University) for producing the first
HTML version of the translation. Gabrielle was helped in this
task by Rhiannon Williams and Nathan Yeoman as part of their
work experience activities at the University of Wales, Cardiff,
who were in turn inspired by Prof. Bernard Schutz (then of the
University of Wales Cardiff, and now of the Max Planck Institute for
Gravitational Physics in Potsdam).
Bryn wishes to thank Rhys for discussions which have maintained
his interest in the subject of these web pages.