By M. T. Brück
Born in eire within the mid-nineteenth century, Agnes Mary Clerke completed reputation because the writer of A heritage of Astronomy in the course of the 19th century. via her quarter-century occupation, she grew to become the major commentator on astronomy and astrophysics within the English-speaking international. This biography describes not just the existence and paintings of this outstanding lady, but additionally chronicles the improvement of astronomy within the final many years of pre-Einstein technology. alongside the way in which, it introduces a few of the nice figures in astronomy of that age, together with Huggins, Lockyer, Holden, and Pickering.
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Extra resources for Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics
All such pictures make the sun just one member of a huge group of stars of various kinds, with – in the early versions – the sun more or less at the centre. In fact, even before the distances of the stars had been measured, the brilliant William Herschel working in England at the end of the eighteenth century had tackled the problem of the distribution of stars in space and had concluded that they were arranged in a system shaped like a flat disk or solid wheel. This ‘millstone’ model explained the phenomenon of the Milky Way, the hazy belt of light encircling the sky where stars are considerably more numerous than elsewhere.
His own The Story of the Heavens,9 a highly successful popular book for mass readership, was about to be published. Agnes Clerke’s book was of a different style. ‘Few men of science who use this book’, Ball wrote, ‘will think that it ought to be classed as a popular work in the ordinary acceptation. ’ ‘Miss Clerke’s most admirable work fills a widely felt want. ’ The book, in short, was astronomy for astronomers. Edward Walter Maunder, an experienced member of the staff of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and head of its solar department, was of the same mind.
His store of information, his knowledge of books and his prodigious memory were legendary, as were his kindness and obligingness to readers and enquirers. G. Trent (an anagram of Garnett) in 1894, which is quoted as a reference in the article on astrology in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Astronomy and astrology may well have been topics of mutual interest to Holden and Garnett when they met in London. The Clerke sisters, as users of the British Library, would have naturally got to know Richard Garnett.