Elizabeth Brown

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    Callum Potter

    The episode of Antiques Roadtrip which includes a short item about Elizabeth Brown (Solar Observer and founding member (?) of the BAA) is scheduled to be shown on Tuesday at 16:30 on BBC 2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000dcgw

    Of course she was not “Britain’s first female astronomer”, but at least they are talking about her!

    There is a little confusion in that it has said to be being shown on Monday.

    However, I am sure it will be available on iPlayer for anyone not able to view it live.


    Bill Barton

    Yes, Elizabeth was an Original Member and by December 1890 she had already been appointed Director of the Solar Section.


    Yes, there is still a lot of interest in her, and as Archivist I have been asked to supply her portrait on several occasions. We still have the telescope she used for her sunspot observations: well, the tube at least. The BAA library archive does not have any copy of the 1880s books she wrote under a pseudonym, about her eclipse expeditions, but I gather they can now be ordered as reprint editions. We must also remember that she was Director of the Solar Section of the Liverpool AS before 1890. It would be interesting to hear a little more about her activities in the LAS.

    Bill Barton

    My (very incomplete) knowledge of Elizabeth in the Liverpool Astronomical Society is that she joined on 1884 January 21 and that she published two papers in the LAS Journal:-

    1, Solar Section Report, vol. 4, p. 2 (1885 October)

    2, Auroræ and Sun-spots, vol. 7, p. 52 (1888 December)

    She may well have made other contributions.

    Elizabeth is noted as having a 6½ inch aperture Calver reflector, a 3½ inch aperture Wray refractor and a 3 inch aperture refractor by an unknown maker and various spectroscopes in vol. 2, no. 6 (1896 June) p. 97 of the Journal of the Astronomical Society of Wales. On page 120 of vol. 1, no. 4 (1898 November) of the Cambrian Natural Observer she is noted as an ‘Associate Member’ of the Astronomical Society of Wales.

    Volume 5, p. 28 (1897) of our Memoirs lists her observations of variable stars during the summer and autumn of 1895, a field not usually associated with her name.

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