James Joseph Magennis VC Frances Elizabeth Clarke Stewart Parker Samuel Beckett Sam Hanna Bell William Carleton John Hewitt Rosamond Praegar Bernard (Barney) Hughes

William Edward Wilson (1851 - 1908):
Astronomer


William Edward Wilson FRS

William Edward Wilson was born in 1851 at Greenisland, Co. Antrim.  He was the only son of John and Frances Wilson of Daramona House, Streete, Co. Westmeath. He was educated at home and at the age of nineteen took part in an expedition to Algeria to observe a total solar eclipse; this inspired a lifelong interest in astronomy.

Wilson carried out three main projects: the first reliable determination of the temperature of the solar photosphere, electrical measurements of the brightness of stars, and photography of the Sun and other celestial objects. His photographs of star clusters and galaxies compare favourably with any taken elsewhere at that time.

Many of his investigations appeared in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.  They included an observation of the transit of Venus in 1882 and a photographic search for a planet beyond Neptune in 1901/01.  In 1900 he took part in the successful Royal Irish Academy - Royal Dublin Society joint solar eclipse expedition to Plasencia in Spain.

Wilson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1896 and he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Trinity College Dublin in 1901.  He was High Sheriff of Westmeath in 1894.




Born: 19 July 1851
Died: 06 March 1908
Ian Elliott