James South
Sir James South was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...


He helped found the Astronomical Society of London, and it was under his name as president of the society from 1831 to 1832 that a petition was successfully submitted to obtain a royal charter in 1831, whereupon it became the Royal Astronomical Society
Royal Astronomical Society
The Royal Astronomical Society is a learned society that began as the Astronomical Society of London in 1820 to support astronomical research . It became the Royal Astronomical Society in 1831 on receiving its Royal Charter from William IV...


South and John Herschel
John Herschel
Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet KH, FRS ,was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor, who in some years also did valuable botanical work...

 jointly produced a catalogue of 380 double star
Double star
In observational astronomy, a double star is a pair of stars that appear close to each other in the sky as seen from Earth when viewed through an optical telescope. This can happen either because the pair forms a binary star, i.e...

s in 1824, reobserving many of the double stars that had been discovered by William Herschel
William Herschel
Sir Frederick William Herschel, KH, FRS, German: Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel was a German-born British astronomer, technical expert, and composer. Born in Hanover, Wilhelm first followed his father into the Military Band of Hanover, but emigrated to Britain at age 19...

. South then continued and observed another 458 double stars over the following year.

He won the Copley Medal
Copley Medal
The Copley Medal is an award given by the Royal Society of London for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science, and alternates between the physical sciences and the biological sciences"...

 in 1826 and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
-History:In the early years, more than one medal was often awarded in a year, but by 1833 only one medal was being awarded per year. This caused a problem when Neptune was discovered in 1846, because many felt an award should jointly be made to John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier...

 in that same year. He was knighted in 1831. Crater
Impact crater
In the broadest sense, the term impact crater can be applied to any depression, natural or manmade, resulting from the high velocity impact of a projectile with a larger body...

s on Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 and the Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 are named in his honor.

Starting around 1826, James South made plans for a new, larger telescope, an equatorially mounted achromatic refractor (a telescope with a lens) in a new observatory. He bought a 12-inch (actually about 11.8) aperture lens from Cauchoix in Paris for about 1000 pounds, large enough to be the biggest achromatic object lens in the world at the time. The telescope for the lens was completed, but dismantled around 1838. The next largest refractor, was at the Markree Observatory
Markree Observatory
-History:In 1830, Col. Edward Joshua Cooper MP eldest son of Edward Synge Cooper MP, and Ann, daughter of Henry Vansittart, Governor of Bengal, set up Markree Observatory on the grounds of Markree Castle....

, which successfully completed a 13.3 inch refractor (also a Cauchoix of Paris lens) in the 1830s on a Thomas Grubb mount. Refracting Telescopes of the 19th Century The problem for James South's telescope was the equatorial mount.

South was involved in a notorious lawsuit brought against him by the instrument maker Edward Troughton
Edward Troughton
Edward Troughton FRS was a British instrument maker who was notable for making telescopes and other astronomical instruments.Troughton was born at Corney, Cumberland...

 over this equatorial-mount telescope which the latter had constructed for him, and which South considered defective. Troughton sued him for payment and won. South promptly demolished the telescope mount; the 12 inch lens, which had been purchased separately, was preserved and presented to the (Dublin) Dunsink Observatory
Dunsink Observatory
The Dunsink Observatory is an astronomical observatory established in 1785 in the townland of Dunsink near the city of Dublin, Ireland.Its most famous director was William Rowan Hamilton, who, amongst other things, discovered quaternions, the first non-commutative algebra, while strolling from the...

 in 1862. Title: The Observatory of the Late Sir James South
Journal: Astronomical register, vol. 8, pp.196-199
The Observatory mounted it on a Grubb equatorial, where it survives to the present day. (See also Great refractor
Great refractor
Great refractor refers to a large telescope with a lens, usually the largest refractor at an observatory with an equatorial mount. The preeminence and success of this style in observational astronomy was an era in telescope use in the 19th and early 20th century. Great refractors were large...


James was the next owner of the Troughton made, Groombridge Transit Circle
Groombridge Transit Circle
Groombridge Transit Circle was a meridian transit circle made by Edward Troughton for Stephen Groombridge in 1806, which Groombridge used to compile data for the star catalogue, Catalogue of Circumpolar Stars. The advantage of a transit circle over a mural circle is that it allows measuring right...

 of 1806, after Stephen Groombridge
Stephen Groombridge
Stephen Groombridge FRS was a British astronomer.In 1806, using a then new transit circle built by Edward Troughton, he began compiling a star catalogue of stars down to about eighth or ninth magnitude...


Further reading

External links

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