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No. 49 - October 2005

Obituary: Nora Jenkinson

We are very sorry to have to tell everyone of the passing or Nora, one of our most remarkable characters, at the great age of 97.

Eleonora Cree Laurie was born at Dolphinton near East Linton, the daughter of a blacksmith. She trained as a nurse and qualified SRN and SCM. She married William Jenkinson and they took over the farm at Harperdean near Haddington in 1946.

Her interest in astronomy began at about the age of 8, passed down, she believed, from her grandfather James Laurie of Berwickshire. After her husband died and her son Ian took over the farm Nora took up astronomy again. She went to classes at Edinburgh University and passed the GCE in astronomy, then in 1974 she started up a class for her own grandchildren and their friends, every Tuesday night. This ran for an amazing 28 years, only 6 meetings had to be cancelled because of severe weather. It developed into "Harperdean Astronomical Society" and at one time had 20 members. They explored every aspect of astronomy with books, slides, videos and home-made apparatus, and made observations from a small summer-house observatory, with instrumentation which began with a 4-inch refractor, a bequest from a friend, Willie Aitchison, to an 8-inch reflector which they build entirely themselves, even grinding the mirror, and finally to a 14-inch Celestron. Several of Nora's young people went on to take degrees in science and one became a professional astronomer at Teneriffe. Jamie Shepherd, Robert McNaught, Dave Gavine, John Rostron, Duncan Waldron, Neil Bone and others used to go and help out, and the ASE Council were so impressed that in 1993 they awarded Nora the Lorimer Medal and with it Honorary Membership of ASE. Our President, Dr John Reid, made the presentation amidst a great celebration with friends and family. Then in 1997 Rob McNaught arranged for his discovery of Asteroid 4504 to be named "Jenkinson" in her honour.

Nora was also greatly interested in local history - she wrote a book and some articles, and was very active in the affairs of the ancient St Mary's Collegiate Kirk. She drove a Jaguar well into her 80s, loved motor sport and was an avid follower of Formula One on TV. At 91 she made a helicopter flight to the Lake District to attend the wedding of her granddaughter Nicola.

After about 2 years of failing health Nora died on August 11 (appropriately - Perseid Maximum night) and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary's. She leaves 2 sons, 6 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren to whom we extend our condolences.

D. Gavine


Cover page

The future of the City Observatory

Obituary: Nora Jenkinson

Centenaries of 2005

The Scottish Astronomy Weekend 2005

Book review: Atlas of the night sky

Recent observations

Forthcoming events

About the ASE Journal

This journal as a single web page

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