John Birmingham, T. H. E. C. Espin and the Search for Red Stars

  • Neil English
Part of the Historical & Cultural Astronomy book series (HCA)


Anno Domini 1866. The Leviathan of Parsonstown, with its 6-foot primary mirror, reigns as the largest telescope in the world, bringing international prestige to Irish astronomical science, and both Dublin and Armagh have well established observatories that date back to the end of the eighteenth century. Their administrators are formally trained, their observing programs, specialized. But far from the Irish cities, west of the great Shannon River, a 50-year-old gentleman, hitherto unknown to the astronomical community, was strolling home along a narrow dirt road that wound its way north from the small town of Tuam, County Galway. It was shortly before midnight on the evening of May 12 that he saw a second magnitude star he had never noticed before in the constellation of the Northern Crown, then situated very high in the sky. After reaching his home at Millbrook House, he sat down by the light of a paraffin lamp to check the star charts in his library. To his amazement, the only star recorded in the position he estimated was of the 9th magnitude, far too faint for even his keen eyes. He had just discovered the brightest nova to grace our skies since 1604; the star T Coronae Borealis! (Fig. 23.1).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil English
    • 1
  1. 1.Fintry by GlasgowUK

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