A new edition of “The Victorian Amateur Astronomer: Independent Astronomical Research in Britain 1820 - 1920” by Alan Chapman has recently been released by Gracewing (the original edition was published twenty years ago by Wiley). This is a superb book, detailing the contributions of both humble amateur astronomers and the well-to-do Grand amateur astronomers to astronomical knowledge in Great Britain in the 19th century. While most of us are familiar with the Grand Amateurs (for instance, John Herschel, Lord Rosse and William Lassell), much of the book is given over to the trials and tribulations of much more modest amateur astronomers, who toiled in obscurity, partly because of Britain’s well-entrenched class system. Many of the stories of these obscure observers are fascinating. If you think 24-inch reflectors in the hands of amateur astronomers is a recent “American” thing, this book will change your mind. Chapman’s book has been out-of-print for many years and consequently copies were hard to come by and very expensive. This is an opportunity to score a copy at a much more affordable price. Available through Amazon. I’ve attached a book review I did of the original edition which appeared in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 2001.
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