William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse: Astronomy and the castle in nineteenth-century Ireland

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R. Charles Mollan
Manchester University Press, Nov 1, 2015 - History - 368 pages
This is a revealing account of the family life and achievements of the Third Earl of Rosse, a hereditary peer and resident landlord at Birr Castle, County Offaly, in nineteenth-century Ireland, before, during and after the devastating famine of the 1840s. He was a remarkable engineer, who built enormous telescopes in the cloudy middle of Ireland. The book gives details, in an attractive non-technical style which requires no previous scientific knowledge, of his engineering initiatives and the astronomical results, but also reveals much more about the man and his contributions – locally in the town and county around Birr, in political and other functions in an Ireland administered by the Protestant Ascendancy, in the development and activities of the Royal Society, of which he was President from 1848–54, and the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The Countess of Rosse, who receives full acknowledgement in the book, was a woman of many talents, among which was her pioneering work in photography, and the book includes reproductions of her artistic exposures, and many other attractive illustrations.


List of illustrations
The Earl and Countess of Rosse
Origin of the 3rd Earls interest in astronomy
Mary Countess of Rosse 181385
William Parsons influence on the town and community of Birr
the public life and political opinions of the 3rd Earl
A consummate engineer
Birr Castle observations of nonstellar objects and the development of nebular theories
William Parsons and the Irish nineteenthcentury tradition of independent astronomical
the relations of the 3rd Earl of Rosse with scientific institutions
an assessment

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About the author (2015)

Charles Mollan is a retired science administrator, editor and publisher, and a historian of Irish science

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