A. A. C. Eliot Merlin: a brief biography


Over thirty years ago (1985) I found myself the latest recipient of the Association’s Merlin Medal and Gift. I already knew a little about the late A. A. C. Eliot Merlin and the bequest associated with his name, and that he had been a well-known observer who had bequeathed all his instruments to the BAA. But in spite of his great generosity towards the Association, and his membership stretching over more than half a century, his name rarely appeared in its publications: indeed, all I could find in print were a drawing of Jupiter in an old Memoir, and a photo of his observatory in Ealing, London. And why was there no Obituary published? Later, I discovered his very extensive and delightful writings in that old weekly newspaper, the English Mechanic.

Last year, a great-niece of Eliot Merlin’s, Mrs Charlotte Johnson of Colinsburgh, Fife, donated an observational notebook and some photographs to the Association’s archives, so I set out to write something about his life and work. This paper started off as a short note purely describing the arrival of the notebook, but as so little about Eliot Merlin has appeared in the Journal, I made it longer. The paper makes no pretence to completeness.

While researching Merlin’s contributions in print I realised that it would be worthwhile to collect together his novae observations in one place, for they formed long and nearly continuous series of records, made under ideal sky conditions from Thessaly, Greece. These are given in the Appendix.

This paper celebrates Eliot Merlin’s life and work from a perspective 70 years after his death.

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