The Victorian amateur astronomer: independent astronomical research in Britain, 1820-1920

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Wiley published in association with Praxis Publishing, Chichester, Dec 29, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 428 pages
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This is the first book to look in detail at amateur astronomy in Victorian Britain. It deals with the technical issues that were active in Victorian astronomy, and reviews the problems of finance, patronage and the dissemination of scientific ideas. It also examines the relationship between the amateur and professional in Britain. It contains a wealth of previously unpublished biographical and anecdotal material, and an extended bibliography with notes incorporating much new scholarship. In The Victorian Amateur Astronomer, Allan Chapman shows that while on the continent astronomical research was lavishly supported by the state, in Britain such research was paid for out of the pockets of highly educated, wealthy gentlemen the so-called Grand Amateurs. It was these powerful individuals who commissioned the telescopes, built the observatories, ran the learned societies, and often stole discoveries from their state-employed colleagues abroad. In addition to the Grand Amateurs, Victorian Britain also contained many self-taught amateurs. Although they belonged to no learned societies, these people provide a barometer of the popularity of astronomy in that age. In the late 19th century, the comfortable middle classes clergymen, lawyers, physicians and retired military officers took to astronomy as a serious hobby. They formed societies which focused on observation, lectures and discussions, and it was through this medium that women first came to play a significant role in British astronomy. Readership: Undergraduate and postgraduate students studying the history of science or humanities, professional historians of science, engineering and technology, particularly those with an interest in astronomy, the development of astronomical ideas, scientific instrument makers, and amateur astronomers

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Amateur astronomy in the Romantic Age
amateurs and professionals in 1840
financing fundamental

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About the author (1998)

Allan Chapman received his B.A. (First Class) in History from Lancaster University in 1972, his D.Phil. in History of Science from the University of Oxford in 1978, and his M.A. from Oxford in 1983. He is the author of two other books on the history of science, and of more than 50 articles in international academic journals. He currently lectures in the Faculty of Modern History, Oxford University, and is a member of Wadham College, Oxford.

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