Loading Events

Talk by Gerard Gilligan

William Lassell has been described by several historians of astronomy as a “Grand Amateur”, and many of them did exist in 19th century Britain. These wealthy Victorian gentlemen and several ladies used their own independent means to pursue a passion for the science of astronomy. Lassell, born in 1799 in the Lancashire town of Bolton became an accomplished astronomical observer, designer and builder of large speculum mirror telescopes.

However his passion for astronomy was paid for indirectly by the thirsty workers, seafarer’s, and the local residence of the growing maritime port of Liverpool. It was from this great Victorian city that after 1825 as a local brewer Lassell financed, his great telescopes, observatories and extend our knowledge of our outer solar system, the giant gas planets and their satellites. He is best known for the discovery of Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, just days after the planet itself was first identified in 1846. He also mapped many deep sky objects.

The lecture will describe not only his astronomical achievements and accomplishments with the development of the telescope, but his social and family background.

The lecture is also supported by a 42 page booklet, published in 2021 with the aid of The Society for the History of Astronomy, and available to purchase from the society.

Gerard Gilligan

I first became interested in the great science of Astronomy when I was 8 years old, following the Apollo 8 mission around the Moon. I soon took a book off a school library shelf – and yes it was written by Patrick Moore. My mum brought me my own astronomy book and a pair of binoculars for the Christmas of 1969, and after all that I was hooked!

I first joined Liverpool Astronomical Society 40 years ago, and have had two stints as Secretary 1986 – 1989, and 2009 – 2015, and held the office of President between 2000 – 02.

I have many interests within astronomy, and following man’s interest in exploring space, both with manned and unmanned space craft. I enjoy giving talks on astronomy to both astronomical societies, groups, and during outreach events. But my particular interest is the history of Astronomy, both locally and nationally, and a founder member of the Society for the History of Astronomy. I have served as SHA membership secretary, and also held the office of Chair of the society form 2018 – 2023.

My ongoing research interests are Victorian astronomers William Lassell, William Benjamin Hutchinson, Bidston Observatory, and the History of Liverpool Astronomical Society.

I live in Liverpool, and recently retired from Liverpool University, School of Life Sciences, as a Technical Supervisor after forty two years’ service. I have a wife, two grown-up children, gold fish, and an 8 inch Dobsonian telescope to support.