Wednesday 23 April 2014

From Dublin to the Moon: John Thomas Romney Robinson

John Thomas Romney Robinson (Dublin, Ireland, 23rd April 1792 - Armagh, Ireland, 28th February 1882)

John Thomas Romney Robinson

We Georgians were fascinated by the heavens above and the era spawned a host of celebrated astronomers, some of whom we have previously welcomed to the salon. Our guest today is John Thomas Romney Robinson, who came from an artistic background to a career in science and astronomy and eventually gave his name to a crater on the Moon.

Robinson was born the son of artist Thomas Robinson and his wife, Ruth Buck, but his interests were squarely in the scientific and after completing his schooling at Belfast Academy, he moved on to study at Trinity College in Dublin. 

Like so many of the previous scientists we have met, Robinson was ordained as a priest during his studies yet it was in his scientific studies that he really excelled and in 1814 accepted a fellowship of the College, where he went on to teach natural philosophy. He married Elizabeth Rambaut in 1821 and following her death 18 years later would marry again, this time to Lucy Jane Edgeworth.

John Thomas Romney Robinson by James Simonton, c. 1850
John Thomas Romney Robinson photographed by James Simonton, c. 1850

Robinson complemented his professorial role by serving as an Anglican priest, though he gave up both his ministry and professorship to take up a position at the Armagh Observatory, where he would remain until his death. Throughout his career Robinson strove to be at the forefront of astronomy, producing groundbreaking research on starscapes and galaxies. His research was widely celebrated and he received many decorations from contemporaries, eventually dying at the age of 89 whilst working at the Armagh Observatory. 


DL NELSON said...

Another fascinating story. Thank you

Unknown said...

There it is again! That link between theology and the heavens (pun intended). What strikes me about all the astronomers throughout history (even ancient history) is their methodical and scientific approach to charting the skies. It's quite amazing to see how his theological career went hand in hand and that his acting as a priest 'complemented' his aspirations with astronomy.

Catherine Curzon said...

A pleasure; he was a new one on me but a favourite of an astronomically-minded pal!

Catherine Curzon said...

It's all that gazing up at the heavens that does it, I think!