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The history of
Astronomy in

of the Subject


Books and

Societies in

in Wales

in Wales


Eclipses in

Falls in Wales

Names of

Odds and







Links are given here to some web resources that may be of interest to the study of the history of astronomy in Wales, plus some links relating to the history of astronomy in general. Links to pages about specific subjects are given elsewhere on this website on the pages covering each of these particular subjects.

Certain of these links may be of interest to a wider audience than these web pages: for example, the links about the history of astronomy may be of value to people researching a broad range of subjects in the history of astronomy; the links about Welsh or British history resources may be of value to people investigating the history of these countries.

For information about the possible astronomical significance of prehistoric monuments, see the Megalithic Sites web pages.

The History of Astronomy

Comprehensive lists of web resources relating to the history of astronomy can be found the Astronomiae Historia website produced by Wolfgang Dick at the University of Bonn. This includes lists of web pages about individual astronomers and observatories. The website is no longer being maintained and will be replaced by a new resource in due course.

The Society for the History of Astronomy is a primarily British organisation devoted to researching the subject, founded in June 2002. Its website includes information on particular research projects in the history of astronomy. Of particular note is its Survey of Astronomical History of Britain and Ireland: information about historic astronomers and observatories are given there for each of the pre-1974 Welsh counties, alongside material for many other British counties.

Among journals devoted to the history of astronomy we have:

Academic journals devoted to the history of science include: These websites usually provide lists of recent articles and papers.

A number of general astronomical journals frequently carry articles about the history of astronomy. These include Astronomy and Geophysics (A&G, published by the Royal Astronomical Society), the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, and the Sky and Telescope magazine.

Some interesting information about the history of the discovery of star clusters, nebulae and galaxies is given in an account at the Messier Catalogue website of SEDS.

Biographical Information about Astronomers

The Astronomiae Historia website of Wolfgang Dick provides an extensive compilation of links to web resources about individual astronomers. It also provides the Finding List of Obituary Notes of Astronomers (1900 - 1997), which lists obituaries published between 1900 and 1997 in a wide variety of publications.

The Library of the Royal Astronomical Society has produced an information sheet on finding biographical information about individual astronomers. The guide, Sources of Biographical and Portrait Information on Astronomers, is available online. The R.A.S. Library web pages also include a catalogue of obituary articles from R.A.S. publications about deceased members, the Index of Obituaries Appearing in R.A.S. Publications, produced by A. J. Kinder. Information about the election of people to fellowship of the R.A.S. used to be published in the Monthly Notices of the R.A.S. and in the Observatory magazine, and obituaries used to be published in the Monthly Notices and later (1960-1996) in the Quarterly Journal of the R.A.S.: scans of these publications are accessible at the Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System which has a free text search facility. The Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System scans of the Monthly Notices include the lists of R.A.S. members for 1885 and 1889 (but only those years).

The Library of the Royal Society has online information about past Fellows of the Society. Membership details of deceased Fellows of the Royal Society can be found at the Raymond and Beverley Sackler Archive at the Society's Library.

Kevin Krisciunas has compiled a useful Name Index to the Sky & Telescope magazine. This is a biographical index which covers the entire period back to the first edition of the magazine.

The Catalog of the Scientific Community in the 16th and 17th Centuries provides biographical information for prominent scientists active between the years 1501 and 1700. It is a resource associated with the Galileo Project (a web resource about Galileo Galilei) at Rice University.

The MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive at the University of St. Andrews provides biographical articles about mathematicians, and include many people who have contributed both to mathematics and to astronomy. The British Society for the History of Mathematics also has useful information about mathematics, including a Mathematical Gazeteer of the British Isles.

An online list of scientists featured in the original Dictionary of Scientific Biography is available: this may be of value in assessing whether the printed dictionary would be worth consulting. This list was compiled as part of the efforts to produce a new version of the dictionary. For scientists with a link to Britain, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography provides free access to its index, although online access to articles requires a subscription.

Scanned Books and Scientific Journals Online

Scans of many historical astronomical journals can be found at the excellent Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data Service (ADS). The Service is based in Harvard, U.S.A., and mirror sites are available worldwide, including in Nottingham. The scanned journals can be accessed through scanned literature query forms (with a Nottingham mirror), while literature searches can be made using a astronomy abstracts query form (with a Nottingham mirror). Full text searches are now possible.

The ADS scanned article service (with the Nottingham mirror) provides scans of some 19th and early 20th century publications. Items of particular British interest at the ADS are the scans of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society extending back to its start in 1827, and the scans of The Observatory magazine extending back to 1877. The Journal of the British Astronomical Association is only available back to 1981, but does include some articles on historical subjects.

The ADS Historical Literature Service includes observatory reports, and for British institutes provides reports from institutions including the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, the Dunn Echt Observatory near Aberdeen, the University of Durham Observatory and Oxford University Observatory. The ADS Historical Literature Service also includes the 19th century amateur astronomy journal The Astronomical Register (published between January 1863 and December 1886 when it ceased).

Some scans of historical journals can be found at the Gallica internet library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. This includes scans of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society dating back to 1665 and Proceedings of the Royal Society (both nearly complete runs). Scans of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society for the period 1757 to 1777 (volumes 50 to 67) have been available at the Internet Library of Early Journals, established as a trial service by the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford.

The Royal Society now provides digitised copies of its publications, including the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (from 1665) and the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (from 1800). Among the other journals available, the Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (from 1932) provides obituary articles about fellows of the society, while the Notes and Records of the Royal Society (from 1938) provides articles about the history of science.

The JSTOR project is placing scans of academic journals online, but access is dependent on a licence (normally purchased by university libraries). It includes some historic scientific journals, such as those of the Royal Society. The coverage gives emphasis to contemporary humanities journals, however.

Many scientific books and some scientific journals have been scanned for the Google Books project. This resource emphasises books rather than periodicals, but these books include many of interest to the history of science, while some scans of periodicals can be found. The Google Books advanced search facility is powerful. Google Books has a very restrictive implementation of copyright law for viewing full scans of publications, with most publications from the 1860s still not accessible to users from the United Kingdom. Google Books sometimes assigns incorrect or unclear dates of publication to periodicals, which can complicate access to some 19th century material. Repeated use of Google Books for research purposes can cause Google to block access when it wrongly interprets the queries as coming from automatic software (something that has often happened to the author of this website).

The Internet Archive also includes scans of a number of out-of-copyright books in its texts resource. These data are available in various formats, including PDF images of the pages and ASCII files (as plain text created using optical character recognition software) for most. The number of books is less extensive than Google Books, but a number of important 19th century popular astronomy books are included. It includes much material from the now defunct Microsoft Live Books resource, and from Google Books. Some material in the Internet Archive has a better scanning quality than Google Books, but the search facility is much more basic, while fewer items are available than through Google Books. However, the Internet Archive gives free access to many publications from the early 20th century (and can provide a route to access material from Google Books that cannot be accessed through Google Books directly because of Google's over-cautious copyright protection of late-19th and early-20th century material). It should be remembered that the plain ASCII text files of scanned publications in the Internet Archive can be searched with an ordinary web search engine by specifying as the internet domain (e.g. a Google web search of the Internet Archive site).

The Open Library contains an extensive catlogue of books and intends to work towards being a catalogue of all books ever published. It provides links to scans held in the Internet Archive, and can therefore be a more convenient way of accessing scans in the Archive. Data in the Open Library can be altered by users under the wiki principle, and users are encouraged to add, expand and improve the database.

Other bibliographical information for astronomy

In addition to the excellent NASA Astrophysics Data Service (ADS) mentioned above, some other lists of journal articles and books are available on-line.

The ARIBIB (Astronomisches Rechen-Institut Bibliographical Database for Astronomical References) website at the University of Heidelberg provides extensive information about historical publications. It provides information from some journals not referenced in the NASA ADS, particularly publications from the amateur astronomical community.

General History Resources

The National Register of Archives contains a directory of materials in archives across the United Kingdom.

Some family history websites may be useful for finding information about individual astronomers. The GENUKI web site contains a large collection of genealogical information for Britain and Ireland. This may be of value for biographical information about individuals. There is a very useful guide to researching family history at the website of the Hel Achau television series (in Welsh); this is no longer available at the original website, but an archived copy is available at the Internet Archive. While this was written from a Welsh perspective, it is of relevance to British historical research generally.

Welsh History Resources

The Archives Network Wales and the Archives Council Wales provide lists of archive services in Wales. These includes local authority archives, which are essential resources for local history. The Archives Network Wales provides facilities to search index catalogues of archives across Wales, inlcuding local authority and institution archives.

The website of the National Library of Wales contains information about the Library's resources, including some (incomplete) library catalogue data. The Library's archives include a number of items of interest to the history of astronomy. The Library's excellent Digital Mirror provides high-quality images from selected publications, mostly of a Welsh interest, and includes an early (11th-13th century) Latin manuscript from France about astronomy.

The website of the National Library of Wales includes the Welsh Biography Online / Y Bywgraffiadur Arlein. This contains the text of the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Y Bywgraffiadur Gymreig and their supplements. This contains biographical articles for many Welsh people.

The Welsh Journals Online project is providing scans of a wide selection of publications from the 19th and 20th centuries from Wales. It is based at the National Library of Wales and is supported with funding from the Welsh Assembly Government. Scans of the first publications appeared in March 2009, and more will be added in the coming months.

Libraries of the institutions of the University of Wales include:

(In addition, the Cardiff University Library includes the Salisbury library of the old University of Wales, Cardiff, and University College Cardiff.)

The excellent Cymru ar y We / Wales on the Web resource provides a catalogue of websites about Wales, and this includes a considerable number on historical subjects. It acts as a subject gateway to material of Welsh interest on the web. The links are to validated websites, in order to provide reliable information about Wales.

The website of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales provides information about some listed historical sites.

Digitisation of books and periodicals continues apace. Some useful old publications available on the web include the following:

This page was created and is maintained by Bryn Jones.   E-mail: .
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This page was first created in January 2000   (at a different address).
It was last modified on 9th February, 2010.
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This page replaced in August 2008 the old page .   An archived copy of the old page is available here.