By M. T. Brück
Born in eire within the mid-nineteenth century, Agnes Mary Clerke completed repute because the writer of A background of Astronomy in the course of the 19th century. via her quarter-century profession, she grew to become the major commentator on astronomy and astrophysics within the English-speaking international. This biography describes not just the lifestyles and paintings of this outstanding girl, but in addition chronicles the advance of astronomy within the final many years of pre-Einstein technological know-how. alongside the way in which, it introduces a few of the nice figures in astronomy of that age, together with Huggins, Lockyer, Holden, and Pickering.
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Additional info for Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics
Agnes Clerke’s book was of a different style. ‘Few men of science who use this book’, Ball wrote, ‘will think that it ought to be classed as a popular work in the ordinary acceptation. ’ ‘Miss Clerke’s most admirable work fills a widely felt want. ’ The book, in short, was astronomy for astronomers. Edward Walter Maunder, an experienced member of the staff of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and head of its solar department, was of the same mind. ‘There is always an especial pleasure’, he wrote in the Observatory magazine, ‘in seeing a strong and skilful worker engaged on a worthy and congenial task, and that pleasant spectacle is abundantly afforded by the book before us .
As Reeve was a copious contributor to the Encyclopaedia it is not surprising that his protegée should have been invited to contribute on matters connected with the history of science. The twenty-four volumes of this major edition came out between 1875 and 1889. The early volumes were already completed before Agnes Clerke began writing, and it was not until volume 10 (1879) at the letter G that the first of her contributions, a long and erudite dissertation on Galileo, appeared. The main article on astronomy in volume 2 (which included an outline of the history of astronomy) was the work of Richard Anthony Proctor, the well-known populariser of astronomy who was probably also the author of the short unsigned entries on Tycho Brahe and Copernicus.
In real life, the annual Christmas party at the Misses Flynn was organised by their pupils. 18 One may surmise that the Clerkes did not neglect their studies and took advantage of Dublin’s excellent libraries: the National Library 25 26 Ireland and Italy in Kildare Street and the Royal Irish Academy in Dawson Street were within easy distance of their home. Their uncle the judge was a member of the Royal Irish Academy since 1846, with an entree to the city’s intellectual circles. 20 Petrie was the dominant figure in the field.
Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics by M. T. Brück