Agnes Mary Clerke
Agnes Mary Clerke
|Died||20 January 1907 (aged 64)|
Agnes Mary Clerke (10 February 1842 – 20 January 1907) was an Irish astronomer and writer, mainly in the field of astronomy. She was born in Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland, and died in London.
Agnes Clerke was the daughter of John William Clerke (c. 1814–1890) who was, at the time, a bank manager in Skibbereen, and his wife Catherine Mary Deasy (b. c. 1819) whose father was a judge's registrar. She had two siblings; her older sister, Ellen Mary, was born in 1840, and her younger brother, Aubrey St. John, was born in 1843. All of the Clerke children were entirely home schooled.
Life and work
Following in her father's footsteps—while studying classics, he had also taken courses in astronomy—she developed an interest in astronomy from an early age, using her father's 4 inch telescope in her observations and had begun to write a history of astronomy at the age of 15. In 1861, aged 19, her family moved to Dublin, and in 1863 to Queenstown. At the age of 25, partly for health reasons together with her elder sister Ellen, she went to Italy where she stayed until 1877, chiefly at Florence, studying science, languages, and other subjects that would be useful in their later lives. In 1877 she settled in London.
Upon her return, she was able to get two articles, "Brigandage in Sicily" and "Copernicus in Italy", written while she had been in Italy, published in the Edinburgh Review of October 1877. This led to her being asked by Adam and Charles Black, publishers of the Review, who also published the Encyclopædia Britannica, to write biographies of a number of famous scientists for the ninth edition of the encyclopedia. This work let to a number of other commissions, including the publication of the article on astronomy for the Catholic Encyclopedia. During her career she wrote reviews of many books, including some written in French, German, Greek, or Italian.
In 1885, she published her best known work A Popular History of Astronomy during the Nineteenth Century, which has received recognition beyond the time it was written.
Clerke was not a practical astronomer, instead collating, interpreting and summarising the results of astronomical research. In 1888 she spent three months at the Cape Observatory as the guest of the director, Sir David Gill, and his wife, and there became sufficiently familiar with spectroscopic work to be able to write about this newer branch of the science with increased clearness and confidence.
In 1892 she was awarded the Actonian Prize of 100 guineas by the Royal Institution. As a member of the British Astronomical Association she attended its meetings regularly, as well as those of the Royal Astronomical Society. In 1903, with Lady Huggins, she was elected an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society, a rank previously held only by three other women, Caroline Herschel and Mary Somerville in 1835, and Anne Sheepshanks in 1862.
In 2017, the Royal Astronomical Society established the Agnes Clerke Medal for the History of Astronomy or Geophysics, which is awarded to individuals who have achieved outstanding research into the history of astronomy or geophysics. The first person to receive the medal was Clive Ruggles.
- A Popular History of Astronomy during the Nineteenth Century. Edinburgh, 1885 (4th rev. ed. London, 1902)
- The System of the Stars. London, 1890 (2nd ed. London, 1905)
- The Herschels and Modern Astronomy. London, 1895
- The Concise Knowledge Astronomy (co-authored with John Ellard Gore and Alfred Fowler). London, 1898
- Problems in Astrophysics. London, 1903
She also wrote 55 articles for the Edinburgh Review, mainly on subjects connected with astrophysics, and articles for the Dictionary of National Biography, the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Catholic Encyclopedia, and several other periodicals. Her articles in the ninth edition (1875–89) of the Britannica included Galileo Galilei, Alexander von Humboldt, Johannes Kepler, Antoine Lavoisier and the zodiac.
- For details of the life and work of Agnes Clerk, see Weitzenhoffer, Kenneth (1985). "The Prolific Pen of Agnes Clerke". Sky and Telescope. 70 (9): 211–212. Bibcode:1985S&T....70..211W.
- Huggins, Margaret L. (1907). "Agnes Mary Clerke". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 67 (4): 230–231. Bibcode:1907MNRAS..67..230.. doi:10.1093/mnras/67.4.230.
- "Obituary–Agnes Mary Clerke". The Observatory. 30: 107–108. 1907. Bibcode:1907Obs....30..107.
- Lynn, William T. (1907). "Miss Agnes Mary Clerke". Journal of the British Astronomical Association. 17 (4): 188–189. Bibcode:1907JBAA...17..188.
- Huggins, Margaret L. (1907). "Agnes Mary Clerke". Astrophysical Journal. 25 (3): 226–230. Bibcode:1907ApJ....25..226H. doi:10.1086/141436.
- Dent, Elsie A. (1907). "Agnes Mary Clerke". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 1 (2): 81–84. Bibcode:1907JRASC...1...81D.
- See, Thomas J. J. (1907). "Some Recollections of Miss Agnes M. Clerke". Popular Astronomy. 15 (6): 323–326. Bibcode:1907PA.....15..323S.
- O'Connor, J J; Robertson, E F (July 2008). "Agnes Mary Clerke". School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
- "Miss Agnes Mary Clerke (transcription)" (38236). London: The Times. 22 January 1907. p. 12; col D. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
- England 1871 census Class: RG10; Piece: 870; Folio: 118; Page: 24; GSU roll: 827769.
- Ogilvie, Marilyn; Harvey, Joy, eds. (1 January 2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science A-K. 1. Routledge: New York and London. pp. 269–271. ISBN 978-0-415-92039-1.
- Cliver, E W (2007). "Agnes Mary Clerke: Real—time historian of astronomy". Astronomy & Geophysics. 48 (3): 25–26. Bibcode:2007A&G....48c..25C. doi:10.1111/j.1468-4004.2007.48325.x. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
- Important Contributors to the Britannica, 9th and 10th Editions Important Contributors to the Britannica, 9th and 10th Editions, 1902encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
- Brake, Laurel; Demoor, Marysa, eds. (2009). "Clerke, Agnes Mary". Dictionary of Nineteenth-century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland. Academia Press. pp. 127–128.
- Bailey, Mandy (2016). "Women and the RAS: 100 years of Fellowship". Astronomy and Geophysics. 57 (1): 19–21. doi:10.1093/astrogeo/atw037.
- Clerke, Ellen (1893). The Planet Venus. London: Witherby and Sons. pp. 59 p. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
- Haines, Catharine (2001). International women in science: a biographical dictionary to 1950. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-57607-090-1.
- Brück, Mary T. (2002). Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Bibcode:2002amcr.book.....B. ISBN 978-0521808446.
- Bowler, Sue (2016). "Maunder and Clerke medals". Astronomy and Geophysics. 57 (4): 10. doi:10.1093/astrogeo/atw143.
- Royal Astronomical Society. "Agnes Mary Clerke Medal for Historical Research (A/G)". www.ras.ac.uk. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
- Brown, Ernest W. (1904). "Review: Problems in Astrophysics by Agnes M. Clerke". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 10 (4): 205–206. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1904-01096-4.
- Fox, William (1908). Catholic Encyclopedia. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company. . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.).
- Brück, M.T. (2002). Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.2277/0521808448. ISBN 978-0-521-80844-6. OCLC 47805069.
- Huggins, Margaret Lindsay (April 1907). "Agnes Mary Clerke" (PDF). The Astrophysical Journal. 25 (1): 225–30. Bibcode:1907ApJ....25..226H. doi:10.1086/141436. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
- Brück, Mary T. (2004). "Agnes Mary Clerke: Ever-popular Historian of Astronomy". The Antiquarian Astronomer. 1: 3–5. Bibcode:2004AntAs...1....3B.
- Brück, Mary T. (2014). "Clerke, Agnes Mary". In Hockey, Thomas; Trimble, Virginia; Williams, Thomas R. (eds.). Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. New York: Springer Publishing. pp. 440–442. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-9917-7_290. ISBN 978-1-4419-9917-7.
- Hollis, Henry Park; Brück, Mary T. (2004). "Clerke, Agnes Mary". Clerke, Agnes Mary (1842–1907), writer on astronomy | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32444.
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Agnes Mary Clerke
- Works by Agnes M. Clerke at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Agnes Mary Clerke at Internet Archive
- Works by Agnes Mary Clerke at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Science Reference Services, Library of Congress. "Women in Astronomy: A Comprehensive Bibliography". Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008. Bibliography of writings about Agnes Mary Clerke.
- Biographical material from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Agnes Mary Clerke", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
- Irish Examiner article
- Southern Star article