British Astronomical Association

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British Astronomical Association
Abbreviation BAA
Motto Britain's leading organisation for observational astronomy[citation needed]
Formation 1890
Legal status Non-profit company
Purpose Astronomy in the UK
  • Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0DU
Region served UK
Membership UK astronomers
President Prof. Bill Leatherbarrow
Main organ BAA Council
Website BAA

The British Astronomical Association (BAA) is the senior[clarification needed] national association of amateur astronomers in the UK.


In the latter part of the 19th century, amateur astronomers became dissatisfied with the Royal Astronomical Society because the fees it charged were considered too high and the society did not allow female members.[citation needed] In October, 1890 the British Astronomical Association was founded to cater to this group of disaffected amateurs. The idea for this organization was first publicly proposed by Irish astronomer William H. S. Monck in a letter published in The English Mechanic on July 12.[1]

Playing a significant role in the founding of the association was English astronomer E. Walter Maunder, with the help of his brother Frid Maunder and William H. Maw. The first meeting of the association was held on October 24, with 60 of the initial 283 members in attendance.[2] Initially it was decided to run the association with a provisional 48-member council[3] that included four women: Margaret Huggins, Elizabeth Brown, Agnes Clerke and Agnes Giberne.[3][4]

The society formed several observing sections for specialized topics in astronomy. Elizabeth Brown, possibly the only woman in England at the time to own an observatory, became head of the Solar section.[5] The association was presented with or bequeathed various astronomical instruments, but lacked the funds to build their own observatory. A total of 477 instruments were acquired during the first 117 years since the association was founded.[6]

The Association held monthly meetings in London, but it also established some regional branches to cater for members who could not attend activities in London. The first of these was the Northwestern Branch which served members in the Northwest of England, centred on Manchester.[7] A West of Scotland Branch was established in 1894, based in Glasgow.[8]

In 1891, a group of amateurs in Australia began discussing the idea of setting up branches of the BAA in their own country. Only the first of these, the New South Wales Branch established in 1895, would survive for more than a brief period. This branch became the second oldest astronomy organization in Australia.[9]



Norman Rogers, a member of the BAA, in his solar observatory.

It encourages observational astronomy by non-professionals in areas which cannot be covered by professional observatories. Members receive the Journal of the British Astronomical Association bi-monthly[1]; a guide to observing; an annual handbook (of charts and astronomical events); and access to meetings and the association's collections of books and equipment.


  • The encouragement of all aspects of observational astronomy and the association of observers at all levels for mutual help.
  • The promotion of a general interest in astronomy for beginners as well as for the more advanced.
  • The circulation of current astronomical information and observational material.
  • The support of modern advanced techniques for observation, data handling and scientific presentation of results.
  • The presentation of medals and prizes in recognition of outstanding contributions to astronomy.


It is organized into a number of observing sections which specialize in the various aspects of astronomy. It also founded and sponsors the Campaign for Dark Skies. It is situated next to the Royal Academy of Arts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elliott, I. (September 1987), "The Monck Plaque", Irish Astronomical Journal 18 (2): 122, Bibcode:1987IrAJ...18..122E 
  2. ^ a b McKim, R. J. (August 1890), "E.W. Maunder and the formation of the British Astronomical Association", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 100 (4): 166–168, Bibcode:1990JBAA..100..166M 
  3. ^ a b Maunder, E. Walter; Maunder, T. Frid (October 1890), "Circulars issued by the Provisional Committee", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 1: 17–19, Bibcode:1890JBAA....1...17M 
  4. ^ Bruck, M. T. (September 1991), "Companions in Astronomy- Margaret Lindsay Huggins and Agnes Mary Clerke", Irish Astronomical Journal 20 (2): 75, Bibcode:1991IrAJ...20...70B 
  5. ^ Creese, M. (August 1998), "Elizabeth Brown (1830-1899), solar astronomer", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 108 (4): 193–197, Bibcode:1998JBAA..108..193C 
  6. ^ Marriott, R. A. (December 2007), "The BAA observatories and the origins of the instrument collection", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 117 (6): 309–313, Bibcode:2007JBAA..117..309M 
  7. ^ "North-Western Branch, Manchester", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 2 (5), February 1892: 248–252, Bibcode:1892JBAA....2..248. 
  8. ^ "West of Scotland, Glasgow", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 5 (3), February 1892: 148, Bibcode:1894JBAA....5..148. 
  9. ^ Orchiston, W.; Perdrix, J. (April 2002), "A history of the British Astronomical Association in Australia: the fate of the Branches", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 112 (2): 68–77, Bibcode:2002JBAA..112...68O 
  10. ^ "Obituary: Captain William Noble". 
  11. ^ "Obituary: Arthur Matthew Weld Downing". 
  12. ^ a b Kinder, A. (October 2002), "A meeting of the BAA, 1893 April 26", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 112 (5): 243–244, Bibcode:2002JBAA..112..243K 
  13. ^ "Officers and Council for the Year, Oct. 1896, to Oct. 1897", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 7 (1), October 1896: 9, Bibcode:1896JBAA....7....9. 
  14. ^ "Officers and Council for the Year, Oct. 1897, to Oct. 1898", Journal of the British Astronomical Association 8 (1), October 1897: 10, Bibcode:1897JBAA....8....1. 
  15. ^ "Obituary: Samuel Arthur Saunder". 
  16. ^ "Obituary: Frederick William Levander". 
  17. ^ "Obituary: Henry Park Hollis". 
  18. ^ "Wikipedia entry: Edward Knobel". 
  19. ^ "Biography: "Ernest Elliott Markwick: variable stars and military campaigns" by Jeremy Shears". 
  20. ^ "Wikipedia entry: T.E.R. Phillips". 
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa British Astronomical Association List of Members, 1969 April 30 (in English), London: British Astronomical Association, 1969, p. 116 
  • History of Astronomy: An Encyclopedia, Routledge, 1996, ISBN 1-55002-208-3 
  • Sidgwick, J. B. (1981), Amateur astronomer's handbook, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-24034-7 

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