William Radcliffe Birt

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William Radcliffe Birt FRAS (1804–1881) was an English amateur astronomer in the 19th century.[1] Birt worked extensively with John Herschel, carrying out a great deal of meteorogical research on atmospheric waves, from 1843 to 1850. A lot of his work is held in the Scientist's Collection at the American Philosophical Society.

Probably on Herschel’s recommendation, Birt became involved with the Kew Observatory in the later 1840s under the Directorship of Francis Ronalds. He analysed and published the latter’s detailed atmospheric electricity and meteorological observations. They also worked together on a new design of kite for making meteorological recordings in the upper air. Birt was formally appointed in late 1849 as Ronalds’ assistant but their relationship soured shortly afterwards and Birt was requested by the Kew Committee to leave in mid-1850.[2]

The lunar crater Birt is named after him.


  1. ^ "Mr W R Birt FRAS". The Cornishman (182). 5 January 1882. p. 4.
  2. ^ Ronalds, B.F. (2016). Sir Francis Ronalds: Father of the Electric Telegraph. London: Imperial College Press. ISBN 978-1-78326-917-4.

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