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Alan Lawrence Astronomical Society of Tasmania. FRANCIS ABBOTT Born August 1799, son of John & Elizabeth Abbott 1814 Apprenticed to John Whitehurst, Derby,

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Presentation on theme: "Alan Lawrence Astronomical Society of Tasmania. FRANCIS ABBOTT Born August 1799, son of John & Elizabeth Abbott 1814 Apprenticed to John Whitehurst, Derby,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Alan Lawrence Astronomical Society of Tasmania

2 FRANCIS ABBOTT Born August 1799, son of John & Elizabeth Abbott 1814 Apprenticed to John Whitehurst, Derby, famous clockmaker 1821 October married Mary Wooley and had 7 children 1831 Set up his own business in Manchester and printed a “Catalogue of Horological & Astronomical Machinery” for his business 1838 Published in London a “Treatise on the Management of Public Clocks”

3 August 1844 – Sentenced to 7 years transportation in the Central Criminal Court London for obtaining two watches on false pretences Transported on the Mt Stewart Elphinstone with 260 convicts to Hobart and arrived in June 1845 Spent 1 year hard labour in a work gang at Oyster Cove


5 1846 Given for 3 years as assigned servant to Lt Kay at Hobart who had been in Hobart since 1840. JOSEPH HENRY KAY(1815-1875 ), naval officer and scientist, was born in London, entered the navy in 1827 and served in H.M.S. Fly in the Mediterranean under his uncle Sir John Franklin. In 1839, with the rank of lieutenant, he left London in the Terror under Commander Crozier on a magnetic observation expedition to the Southern Seas under Capt. James Clarke Ross.

6 Grand schemes for gathering data about physical phenomena were promoted by Carl Gauss and Alexander Von Humbolt. The Magnetic Union was formed to establish magnetic observatories around the world at Toronto, St Helena, Cape Town and Hobart town.  An expedition had been organized to investigate the geomagnetic field in the southern hemisphere. The leader of the expedition, Captain James Clark Ross, had instructions to establish a chain of magnetic observatories and to confirm, if possible the existence of an Antarctic continent.

7 The Terror and the Erebus arrived in Hobart Town on 16 August 1840 and were enthusiastically received by Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin who, had a great interest in science and discovery and was a personal friend of both Ross and Crozier. Kay stayed with the Franklins at Government House. Franklin made all necessary preparations for the establishment of the magnetic observatory in Hobart and the building was speedily erected at Rossbank with 200 convicts quarrying the stone, in the present Government House grounds. Ross and Kay installed the instruments on 23 September 1840 and, when the expedition left on 12 November for Antarctic waters, Kay remained in Hobart with the title of director of the magnetic observatory in Van Diemen's Land.



10 1836: Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land Franklin was appointed Lieutenant Governor in 1836, but was removed from office in 1843. He did not endear himself with the local civil servants, who particularly disliked his humane ideals and his attempts to reform the Tasmanian penal colony. His wife, Lady Jane, was quite liberated for a woman of her day, known for "roughing it" to the extent that an expedition had to be mounted after she and Franklin became lost in the wilds. Such exploits further distanced the couple from "proper" society, and may have contributed to Franklin's recall. Nevertheless, he was popular among the people of Tasmania. He is remembered by a significant landmark in the centre of Hobart—a statue of him dominates the park known as Franklin Square, which was the site of the original Government House. His wife worked to set up the university, a museum and the botanical gardens.

11  Ross was a British naval officer and explorer. He explored the Arctic with his uncle Sir John Ross and Sir William Parry, and later led his own expedition to Antarctica. He went on Sir John's first Arctic voyage in search of a Northwest Passage in 1818. Between 1819 and 1827, Ross took part in four Arctic expeditions under Parry, and in 1829 to 1833, on Sir John's second Arctic voyage. It was during this trip that they located the position of the North Magnetic Pole on 1 June 1831 on the Boothia Peninsular in the far north of Canada.  In 1834, Ross was promoted to captain, and to 1838, he was employed on the magnetic survey of Great Britain.

12  Between 1839 and 1843 Ross commanded an Antarctic expedition comprising the vessels HMS Erebus and HMS Terror and charted much of the coastline of the continent.. Erebus and Terror were bomb vessels - an unusual type of warship named after the mortar bombs they were designed to fire and constructed with extremely strong hulls, to withstand the recoil of the mortars, which were to prove of great value in thick ice.  In 1841, James Ross discovered the Ross Sea, Victoria Land, and the volcanoes Mount Erebus and Mount Terror, which were named after the expedition's vessels.

13 They sailed for 400 km along the edge of the low, flat-topped ice shelf they called the Victoria Barrier, later named “Ross Ice Shelf“ in his honour. In the following year, he attempted to penetrate south at about 55°W, and explored the eastern side of what is now known as James Ross island, discovering and naming Snow Hill Island and Seymour Island.

14 Francis Abbott assisted Lt Kay at Rossbank Observatory from 1845 – 1854 in taking the vertical, horizontal and declination measurements every hour on the 3 magnetometers.except for one day /month when they were read at 5 and 10 minute intervals, i.e 576 readings in 24hours. He was given a ticket of leave on 27 March 1849 and then opened a small watch and clockmaking business in Murray Street. His wife and family were given free passage in 1850. The Rossbank Observatory was demolished in 1854 to make way for the new Government house

15 He wrote: “ Report on the naked eye visibility of a comet ” June 1863. He wrote six articles to Royal Society of Tasmania on “ The changes in the magnitude of Eta Carina 1861-1863 ” He became a member of the Royal Society of Tasmania in 1855, FRAS 1860 and FR Meteorological Society 1869. He presented : “ On atmospheric electricity: its effects on various kinds of matter, with special reference to the condition of auroras and thunder storms ” in Royal Society of Tasmania. Monthly Notices of Papers and Proceedings,

16 He went on to publish three astronomical books in Hobart. He was an active member of the Royal Society of Tasmania and a regular contributor of articles. He built and installed public clocks including the Government House clock in 1859 He became known as an astronomer and meteorological observer in Hobart, 1854-80.

17 He wrote: “ Means which have been adopted for ascertaining the velocity of light and the sun's distance, with especial reference to the forth-coming transit of Venus over the Sun's disc in 1874 and 1882” Royal Society of Tasmania. Monthly Notices of Papers and Proceedings, (1864), 20-24. He also wrote:

18 “ Spectrum analysis and its application to science.” Royal Society of Tasmania, Monthly Notices of Papers and Proceedings, (1868), 41-48. “ Nobert's test plate, Moller's diatom type slide, and modern microscopes ”. Royal Society of Tasmania. Monthly Notices of Papers and Prodeedings, (1869), 35-41.

19 From 1861 he set up a transit telescope to provide accurate noon timing for shipping, and recorded daily meteorological observations for 30 years. He published many papers locally and internationally on comet observations C/1861 & C/1865 B1 and described the changes in the brightness of Eta Carina which had reached - 0.8 magnitude in 1847 and was steadily declining.

20 From about 1860 Abbott began to have the view that the universe was not static (because he was able to observe changes). This was contrary to most general opinions that the Earth (and presumably the universe) had been created in 4004 BC and would not change. In 1862 he published his observations of the Jewel Box cluster, “certain changes that are apparently taking place in the number, position and colour of it’s stars.”

21 He went on to describe how he had compared the drawings of Sir John Herschel from the Cape in 1835 and found significant differences in position and colour. He was severely criticised by Herschel and the Astronomer Royal and banned from publishing in the Royal Astronomical Society proceedings. Abbott was undaunted and went on to look for changes in the colours of the stars in the Jewel Box.

22 Abbott’s observations were detailed showing 75 stars using his 10.4cm,5 foot,f/14.5 refractor. “The stars which are given in the drawing,were observed, and their positions laid down by means of an object glass of excellent quality. The power used for this purpose of laying down the stars was 135x.” The comparison was made using John Herschel’s original drawing from 1835 in South Africa. These changes are today ascribed to the slight inaccuracies of Herschel’s drawing whose slightly different placements were magnified into significant change when being compared by Abbott

23 In 1872,in response to Abbott’s suggestions H. C. Russell in Melbourne, carefully measured and catalogued 130 stars in the Jewel Box and compared them to Herschel’s drawing. After publication,confirming the accuracy of Abbotts work, this was met with biting criticism.This led to using photographic plates for star surveys and the application of astrophotography.

24  In Hobart he published Modern Astronomy in1878, Resume on Modern Astronomy in 1879 and Sidereal Systems of Modern Astronomy, Multiple Suns and Far off Worlds in 1880.  As one of the leading astronomers in Australia he collected a large philosophical and scientific library and an assortment of scientific instruments,unique in the colony.


26 He died on 18th February 1883 and his son Charles,a skilled watchmaker and optician, carried on his business until his death in 1888. Francis junior (1828 – 1903),his youngest son, became Superintendant of the Botanical Gardens in 1859.

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