Society for the History of Astronomy

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Society for the History of Astronomy
Abbreviation SHA
Formation 2002 (12 years ago)
Legal status Society
Purpose To promote and encourage the study of the history of astronomy.
Official language English
Chairman Madeline Cox
Main organ Antiquarian Astronomer

Royal Astronomical Society

Birmingham and Midland Institute.
Website Society for the History of Astronomy

The Society for the History of Astronomy is an organisation based in the United Kingdom that promotes research into the history of astronomy. It publishes a research journal called the Antiquarian Astronomer and a regular Bulletin.[1]

The Society[edit]

The Society for the History of Astronomy was founded in 2002 to promote the study of the history of astronomy by hosting talks by members and publishing new research into the field. One main objective was to encourage research into past astronomers who have previously been neglected within the history of science. Some of its members are professional historians of science but most are amateur historians.[2]

The Honorary President is Dr Allan Chapman of Wadham College, Oxford. The honorary vice-president is Dr Michael Hoskin of Churchill College, Cambridge. Sir Patrick Moore was an honorary vice-president until his death in 2012.

The Society hosts several one-day conferences at venues across the United Kingdom each year. A Bulletin is published twice yearly containing articles and news items about astronomical history. The Bulletin includes short reports of original research by members.

The society maintains a library of publications of importance to the history of science. It is known as the Sir Robert Ball Library and is located at the Birmingham and Midland Institute in central Birmingham.[3] The archives of the Society are preserved at the Library of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge.

Survey of Astronomical History[edit]

One of the Society's major activities is organising a Survey of Astronomical History in the form of lists of historical astronomers and observatories in each of the old counties of Britain and Ireland. This has been motivated by a desire to promote research into local astronomical activities that have previously been neglected.[4]

The Antiquarian Astronomer[edit]

The Society publishes annually a refereed journal called the Antiquarian Astronomer containing new research into the history of astronomy, particularly by members. Published papers have discussed activities in major observatories, research by individuals of particular note, scientific instrument makers and the activities of prominent amateur astronomers.[5][6]


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  2. ^ Orchiston, Wayne (2005), "Society for the History of Astronomy", Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage (Townsville: James Cook University) 8 (2): 133–134, ISSN 1440-2807 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Satterthwaite, Gilbert E., "Foreward", and Potter, Callum, "Preface". The Antiquarian Astronomer, No. 1, p. 2 (2004).

External links[edit]