Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr logo


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



  

A HISTORY OF
ASTRONOMY
IN WALES



Introduction

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, even obscure.

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.



Finding information

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, written in 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 [Welsh Scientists] 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 Biography.

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 field.

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 challenge.



Acknowledgements

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.




   
This page was created and is maintained by Bryn Jones.   E-mail: bryn.jones.email@gmail.com .
WWW home page: http://www.jonesbryn.plus.com/ .
This page was first created in January 2000   (at a different address).
It was last modified on 4th March, 2011.
URL of this page: http://www.jonesbryn.plus.com/wastronhist/ .
This page replaced in August 2008 the old page http://brynjones.members.beeb.net/wastronhist/astronwaleshist.html .   An archived copy of the old page is available here.