I bet that got your attention! But it’s true, as reported in the Council minutes, the Treasurer of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh will visit America to talk to Albert Einstein.

But as with all tabloid headlines, there’s another side to the story. No, our current Treasurer Alan Ellis isn’t going to be time travelling – at least not quite yet, apart from at the eyepiece end of a telescope. But this was reported in the April 1939 Council Minutes of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh. And if you ever needed a reason to join this historic and august society, the freedom to sift through the rich historical archives of almost 100 years of meeting minutes on the Members website must surely be one of them.

Here’s the extract:

With reference to Mr J. Gibson Kerr’s proposed visit to America where he would on behalf of the Society inspect various Observatories, view Astronomical Films and discuss certain matters with Professor Einstein and others, it was decided to ask Mr Kerr to accept as a Grant towards his travelling and entertaining expenses the sums of twenty-five and fifty guineas to be charged against Observatory and general expenditure respectively. Mr Kerr returned thanks.

What a generous offer of Mr Kerr to do that on the Society’s behalf.

And a little bit more from the same minutes:

The Syllabus for next session was considered and it was decided to hold Lectures each month from October to April. The first of these to be a public lecture of a more popular nature and to be held in a larger Hall such as the Central Hall, Tollcross. The Lecturer to be either Prof Plaskett (of Oxford) or Dr Steavenson. A fee of ten guineas, and expenses, to be paid to the Lecturer; the fee to include the right of publishing the lecture. It was suggested that tickets for the public should be priced at 2/- and 1/-. Mr Gibson Kerr agreed to give a lecture on his American tour, and other lecturers proposed were: Prof Greaves; T.L. MacDonald; Prof Smart; Dr Macpherson; Mr Duncanson; Prof Carroll and Mr Geddes of Aberdeen.

And one final, timely extract from Feb 1939…

The Treasurer read the names of several members whose subscriptions were in arrear.

You know who you are 🙂 Look out for the next historic instalment…

Main image: Library image, Einstein receiving American citizenship