Kew Observatory and the Evolution of Victorian Science, 1840-1910

Kew Observatory and the Evolution of Victorian Science, 1840-1910

by Lee T. Macdonald

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Kew Observatory was originally built in 1769 for King George III, a keen amateur astronomer, so that he could observe the transit of Venus. By the mid-nineteenth century, it was a world-leading center for four major sciences: geomagnetism, meteorology, solar physics, and standardization. Long before government cutbacks forced its closure in 1980, the observatory was run by both major bodies responsible for the management of science in Britain: first the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and then, from 1871, the Royal Society. Kew Observatory influenced and was influenced by many of the larger developments in the physical sciences during the second half of the nineteenth century, while many of the major figures involved were in some way affiliated with Kew.

Lee T. Macdonald explores the extraordinary story of this important scientific institution as it rose to prominence during the Victorian era. His book offers fresh new insights into key historical issues in nineteenth-century science: the patronage of science; relations between science and government; the evolution of the observatory sciences; and the origins and early years of the National Physical Laboratory, once an extension of Kew and now the largest applied physics organization in the United Kingdom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822983491
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 08/31/2018
Series: Sci & Culture in the Nineteenth Century
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Lee T. Macdonald is research facilitator at the University of Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science, and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He is the author of How to Observe the Sun Safely.

Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgments Abbreviations Introduction: Kew Observatory, Victorian Science, and the "Observatory Sciences" 1. A "Physical Observatory" Kew, the Royal Society, and the British Association, 1840–1845 2. Survival and Expansion: Kew Observatory, the Government Grant, and Standardization, 1845–1859 3. "Solar Spot Mania," "Cosmical Physics," and Meteorology, 1852–1870 4. Kew Observatory and the Royal Society, 1869–1885 5. Kew Observatory and the Origins of the National Physical Laboratory, 1885–1900 6. "An Epoch in the History of Kew" The End of the Victorian Kew Observatory, 1900–1910 Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index

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