February 18, 1848 William Scoresby, an Anglican minister, scientist and Arctic explorer, begins a series of lectures at the Odd Fellows Hall in Washington, D.C. on the construction and use of the Rosse telescope. These are the first scientific talks given under the auspices of the fledgling Smithsonian Institution. Scoresby’s An Account of the Arctic Regions, with a History and Description of the Northern Whale-Fishery, published in 1820, ushered in the modern age of polar science.
Astronomer William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse (1800 – 1867) was an Anglo-Irish astronomer whose 72-inch telescope “Leviathan of Parsontown,” built in 1845 on his estate, Birr Castle, at Parsonstown (now Birr in County Offaly, Ireland) was the world’s largest telescope until the construction of the 100-inch (2.5 m) Hooker Telescope in 1917.
Posted: 18 February 2018