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The history of
Astronomy in
Wales:
Introduction



Published
Summaries
of the Subject



People


Publications:
Books and
Journals



Astronomical
Societies in
Wales



Astronomical
Observatories
in Wales



Universities
in Wales



Historic
Observations



Eclipses in
Wales



Meteorite
Falls in Wales



Names of
astronomical
objects



Odds and
ends



Commentary


Web
Links



  

FORMER   ASTRONOMICAL
SOCIETIES   OF   THE
LATE   20TH   CENTURY

THE HISTORY OF ASTRONOMY IN WALES



Introduction

Although the emphasis of these pages is on the history of astronomy in Wales in the period up to the middle of the 20th century, it might be appropriate to record a few astronomical societies from the last few decades which are now defunct. For that reason, this is emphatically not the place to discuss the Swansea Astronomical Society which was formed in 1948, the Cardiff and Gwynedd Astronomical Societies which were formed in the 1970's, or some more recent organisations: they all have lasted to the present day and continue to flourish.

Amateur astronomical societies require much dedicated effort to maintain. When membership wanes, as can often happen in any voluntary organisation, it can become difficult to continue. It might be appropriate to record the stories of some of these as a tribute to the hard work put in by their members.

See the companion page about astronomical societies in Wales for more general issues about historic astronomical societies.



The Cardiff and District Astronomical Society

A Cardiff and District Astronomical Society existed in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

[Reference: T. W. Williams, obituary of Arnold Buxton, Monthly Notices R.A.S., 110, 125, 1950.]



The Cambrian Astronomical Society

The Cambrian Astronomical Society existed in Cardiff in the 1960's. This was one of a few attempts to establish a society in the city before the Cardiff Astronomical Society achieved permanent success from 1975.

[References: List of Members of the British Astronomical Association, 1966; J. G. Porter & P. Moore, 1972 Yearbook of Astronomy; J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., vol. 77, no. 2, pp. 126-127, 1967.]



The Swansea University College Astronomical Society

An astronomical society existed at University College Swansea in the 1970's.

[References: List of Affiliated Organisations of the Brit. Astron. Assoc., J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., vol. 87, no. 3, p. 320, 1976; minutes of the out-of-London meeting of the Brit. Astron. Assoc., J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., vol. 87, no. 1, p. 3, 1976.]



The Clwyd Astronomical Society

The Clwyd Astronomical Society existed in northeast Wales in the late 1970's. It was formed in 1976, instigated by Kevin Payne of Denbigh who became Secretary. It lasted until c.1979.



The Llanelly Astronomical Society

The Handbook of the Federation of Astronomical Societies for 1982 included a Llanelly Astronomical Society among its lists of organisations. The contact was given as V. M. Jenkins of Llanelli. This list had a tendency to include societies for some years after they became defunct: we conclude that the society must have existed some time in the late 1970's. Nothing more is known about it.



Schools astronomical societies

Some secondary schools have established astronomical societies and clubs for the benefit of pupils. These include ones at Llantarnam and Monmouth schools.

[References: List of Affiliated Organisations of the Brit. Astron. Assoc., J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., vol. 87, no. 3, p. 320, 1976.]



The Astronomical Society of Wales, 1981-1994

An attempt was made to establish an Astronomical Society of Wales in the 1980's, inspired by the society of that name that existed between 1895 and c.1914. It was formed at an inaugural meeting held in Cardiff on 21st March, 1981. Dr. Phil Williams of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, was elected President.

The Society began by holding quarterly meetings in various locations around Wales, including Swansea, Cardiff, Neath, Bangor and Aberystwyth. It published a quarterly Journal containing popular articles by members, firstly professionally printed, later photocopied but still of a high standard. Initially, the spread of membership and activities was across Wales, with strong participation from the Cardiff and Swansea Astronomical Societies. There were initially strong hopes that it would act to support and coordinate amateur astronomical activity across the whole of Wales, complementing and promoting the work of amateur societies. Indeed the Society stimulated the formation of the North Clwyd and Bridgend astronomical societies within its first year. Participation from the professional research community was, however, limited.

Occasionally, voluntary organisations can be beset by disagreements and personality clashes, particularly when strong personalities are involved: the Astronomical Society of Wales was no exception.

Much of the work in organising the Society was taken on by Mr. Bernard Edward Featherstone (1913-1995) of Port Talbot, a dominant figure in amateur astronomy in West Glamorgan. He singlehandedly edited the Journal and arranged many of the affairs of the society.

Meetings tended to be held mainly in Neath, and later exclusively in Port Talbot. The membership became increasingly concentrated on the area around Port Talbot, with little participation from people from further afield. The society continued into the early 1990's. In 1994 the membership reorganised themselves as the Port Talbot Astronomical Society, bringing to an end the Astronomical Society of Wales. Today the banner of amateur astronomy in that area is still successfully carried by the Port Talbot Astronomical Society.



The North Clwyd Astronomical Society

The North Clwyd Astronomical Society operated in the area around the mouth of the River Clwyd in the 1980's. It was founded in October 1981, instigated by Ms. (now Dr.) Gwyneth Hueter and Mr. Robert Newton. It held regular meetings at Ysgol Dewi Sant in Rhyl, usually with talks by members, and sometimes by outside speakers: for example, Dr. Mike Hapgood of the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory, a specialist in the Earth's upper atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind, and who came originally from Colwyn Bay, was a frequent visiting speaker. The Society published an occasional newsletter. Several meetings were organised in partnership with the Gwynedd A.S., the A.S. of Wales, and the Chester A.S.

Gwyneth Hueter, and later Bob Newton, moved away from the area, leaving the main responsibility for organising the society to Mr. Derek Owen of Pensarn. The society continued until his sudden death from a heart attack at his workplace in February 1989. Without his leadership, the Society was unable to continue and ceased in the spring of 1989.



The Neath Astronomical Society

The Neath Astronomical Society existed for a short period in the mid 1980s. It was formed at a meeting on 19th October, 1984. Mr. Andrew Short served the Society as Chairman, Mr. Peter Jenkins as Secretary, and Mr. Graham Davies as Treasurer. Initially interest was strong, with an attendance of about twenty at its meetings in Alfred Street in Neath. Impressively, these meetings were held on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, this interest began to lapse and the Society was disbanded on 21st March, 1986.

The author of these pages is very grateful to Mr. Andrew Short for kindly providing information about the Society.



The Aberconwy Astronomical Society

The Aberconwy Astronomical Society operated in the area around Llandudno at the end of the 1980's and early 1990's. Its foundation was prompted by Mr. Eddie Watson-Jones when he moved to Penmaenmawr on his retirement as Assistant Secretary of the British Astronomical Association in London. It arranged lectures at its regular meetings.






   
This page was created and is maintained by Bryn Jones.   E-mail: bryn.jones.email@gmail.com .
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This page was first created in January 2000   (at a different address).
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