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December 17th, 2019 in Notice Board by admin


commemorating the life and work of The Revd. Dr. William Pearson, LLD, FRS

The Revd. Dr William Pearson, co-founder of the Royal Astronomical Society, was the rector of South Kilworth, Leicestershire, for the last three decades of his life, and built two observatories in the village to allow him to pursue his research interests; he published estimates of the obliquity of the ecliptic, and a catalogue of stars occulted by the Moon, as a result of observations from the village. As the two-hundredth anniversary of the RAS approaches, historians of astronomy in the Midlands are taking the opportunity to honour the memory of one of the RAS’s founding fathers.

Jacky Harrison, the current owner of the Rectory, has had a long-standing interest in Pearson’s life in South Kilworth. She teamed up with Mike Frost FRAS, director of the British Astronomical Association’s historical section, to secure funding to renovate Pearson’s grave in the village graveyard. Mike acknowledges with gratitude a grant from the RAS historical committee. This matches funds that Jacky secured from the South Kilworth Parish Council, and the restoration took place earlier this summer.

In parallel, Mike Frost and Carolyn Bedwell, assistant librarian at the Society for the History of Astronomy and secretary of Leicester Astronomical Society, both nominated Pearson for the Green Plaque program run by Leicestershire County Council. Leics CC invites nominations of eminent residents of the county into a popular vote to receive a plaque. Despite being up against stiff competition (including a recipient of the Victoria Cross, and the illustrator of Thomas the Tank Engine), Pearson placed high in the popular vote and so will be commemorated by the county, with a plaque on the gates of the Rectory, right in the centre of the village.

The dedication of William Pearson’s plaque will take place on the afternoon of Jan 16th2020, two hundred years and four days after the first meeting of the society that he did much to found and to nurture. RAS President Mike Cruise has been invited to unveil the plaque and there will be a short dedication ceremony in St Nicholas’ church. It is hoped that fellows and friends of the Society will take the opportunity to visit this quiet Leicestershire village and honour their illustrious predecessor.

Mike Frost

Author: admin

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