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History of Astronomy in South Africa: The Late Modern Period

A Focus Meeting to be held at the XXXII IAU General Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, on August 7-8, 2024


Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope in 1857, "one of the most fantastic institutional spectacles the colonial city had to offer" according to Elizabeth Green Musselman (2002). Source: Illustrated London News, 21 March 1857 (Wikimedia Commons).

Key Topics

Observatories: SAAO, Ratcliffe, Union, Boyden (Harvard), Leiden Southern Station, ...

Specific instruments (Franklin Adams cameras, ...)

Archives (SAAO, Union Observatory), and specifically logbooks as information carriers for history of astronomy:

Astronomical plate collections (SAAO, Union, Harvard, Leiden), and their fate

People and their impact on South African society: Observatory directors, Reverends

Female astronomers: Johanna Walraven and other "invisibles"

John Herschel and education at the Cape

Astronomical key events: eruption of eta Carinae, comet Donati, ....

Geodetic Survey of South Africa: Thomas Maclear, surveying education, and interactions with natives