Orwell Astronomical Society (Ipswich)
Herbert Gerard Tomkins (1869-1934)
Herbert Gerard Tomkins was born on 21 April 1869, eldest of four sons of the Rev Gerard W Tomkins, Vicar of Gorleston, near Yarmouth. He grew up in England until, at age 14, he moved with his family to India, where he was to spend the greater part of his life. At age 22, he entered the financial department of the Indian Government. On 23 December 1893, in Mumbai, Maharashtra, he married Florence Emilie Moor [2016a]. His career flourished and, by the time of his retirement in 1922, he had attained the rank of Accountant General of the Province of Bengal. In recognition of his service, he was awarded a Companionship of the Indian Empire in 1911. (His three brothers also all achieved distinction in the Indian Services.) On retirement, he returned to the UK, moving to a substantial property, East House, Dedham, Colchester.
He became interested in astronomy at an early age. A F Bennett, in his obituary of Tomkins in JBAA [1934h], attributed the start of his passion for astronomy to friends at Allahabad University Observatory who showed him some of the wonders of the night sky through a telescope. However his interest was fired, Tomkins developed a life-long passion for the study of the Moon and its physical characteristics, all-but eschewing other avenues of astronomical study. He reported his work to the British Astronomical Association (BAA) and to the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).
Tomkins was elected a fellow of the RAS in 1907. His certificate of election shows that he was proposed on 12 June and elected on 14 June. He was proposed by S A Saunder (also a selenographer) and seconded by Walter Goodacre and J Hardcastle. Tomkins' address at the time of election was "Eastcott" 86 Old Dover Road, Canterbury.
Tomkins was elected a member of the BAA on 31 May 1899. He was proposed for membership by Henry Corder, seconded by P B Molesworth, Captain, RE. See [1899a, 1899b].
While based in India, he was nonetheless able to attend some BAA meetings at Sion College in London (the customary venue) when he was on leave in the UK. After retiring and relocating permanently to the UK, he took an active role in the running of the BAA. He was elected Honorary Secretary on 27 May 1925 [1925c], replacing the Rev F C Lees, who had passed away earlier in the year [1925b]. Tomkins continued as Honorary Secretary at the next BAA annual meeting, in October 1925 [1925g]. Unfortunately, he had to retire under doctor's orders by summer of the following year, and was replaced as Secretary by P J Mellotte [1926b, 1926c].
Although standing down as Secretary, he continued to support the running of the BAA both as Member of Council and as Vice President, as follows:
Tomkins proposed and seconded the following individuals for election to the BAA:
Tomkins was elected a member of the Astronomy Society of the Pacific on 30 November 1929 [1929n].
Nova Persei 1901 (GK Persei) was discovered on 21 February 1901. It reached a maximum magnitude of 0.2 before fading to approximately magnitude 13. By chance, Tomkins, in Allahabad, India, had obtained the first photograph of the nova, on 22 February, while experimenting with a new lens. He had been unable to study his photograph immediately, as he had to leave Allahabad on a tour; he learned of the discovery of the nova while away, and found the object on the negative when he returned home. His photograph was shown at a meeting of the BAA on 29 May 1901 [1901a].
Anyone who looks through binoculars or a small telescope at the Moon when near full cannot fail to notice the bright rays that emanate from some large craters, among them for example Tycho, Copernicus and Aristarchus. Tomkins undertook an extensive study of the rays, aiming firstly to map them and, secondly, to discover their nature. He began the investigation in 1898, and a brief report [1899c] of the BAA Lunar Section the following year indicated that he would welcome assistance from other observers. He reported the work in a series of papers [1905a, 1906b, 1907a, 1907b, 1908a, 1908b, 1908h, 1908i, 1909b], marking his first major appearance in the astronomical literature.
Although he found it easy to determine the general direction of each ray, the vague definition of the margin of each, together with changes in appearance under different conditions of illumination, meant that it was impossible to draw them accurately. Despite hundreds of attempts at drawing the rays over a four-year period, he was ultimately forced to conclude that his efforts to do so were "practically useless" and that photography was the only approach that could succeed.
In fact, he found that lunar eclipses provided the best conditions for visual observation of the rays. During lunar eclipses, he studied two rays emerging northwards from the crater Copernicus, concluding that they followed low ridges. He believed that rays stood atop low ridges in several cases, although there were also cases where rays crossed level plains.
He used photography to study the rays emanating from Copernicus. He took a series of photographs of the ray system with a 9" reflector and reversed one of the negatives, to obtain black rays on a white background, which he used to map the direction of the feature.
He developed an ingenious theory explaining the rays as saline deposits on the lunar surface. He had the opportunity to study areas in the Punjab where large tracts of saltpetre deposits occurred. Damp caused the saltpetre to rise to the surface of the ground and, when the water evaporated or froze, it appeared on the ground as an efflorescence of bright white powder. The saltpetre generally appeared first at the highest points of the ground, and repeated evaporation/freezing and dampening had the effect of building up the thickness of the deposit. He called attention to patris, low banks of earth thrown up by native farmers in the Punjab to divide their fields, which could appear bright white with saltpetre deposits while the surrounding fields were of an ordinary colour. The characteristics of saltpetre deposits on the ground in in India appeared to Tomkins to be similar to what he observed of the lunar rays. He developed a theory explaining the latter in terms of saline marshy areas on the surface of the Moon, with salt crusts forming and strengthening under solar illumination. The crusts reflected sunlight towards the observer, doing so most effectively around the time of full moon. His initial exposition of the theory was tentative and, over a period of three or so years, he refined it to cover many aspects of the rays as he observed them empirically. Although nowadays we understand the Moon to be a lifeless, waterless world, his explanation was not out of alignment with the thinking of the era; some respected astronomers held that water might have existed on the surface of the Moon in the distant past and in the modern era could be present just below the surface.
He submitted a seven-page paper to JBAA on the phenomenon on 30 May 1906 [1906b]. The paper was read at the next BAA meeting [1906a], on 20 June 1906, by Walter Goodacre, Director of the BAA Lunar Section, and stimulated much discussion. In particular, BAA Vice President S A Saunder gave a detailed critique of the paper, criticising Tomkins' assumption about the amount of water remaining on the Moon, the speed with which it would evaporate and his understanding of the way in which salt deposits would reflect sunlight.
Goodacre sent Tomkins' paper to Professor W H Pickering of Harvard Observatory asking for his opinion of it. Pickering responded by letter [1906e], favouring his theory that the streaks were at least partly due to lunar ice, rendered invisible during very glancing solar illumination of the surface through being situated at the bottom of crevices, shielding the material from sunlight until the Sun was at sufficient altitude. Tomkins in turn responded [1906d] to Pickering, pointing out some difficulties that he could see with the ice theory, not the least of which was the question why the ice favoured crevices. At the BAA annual meeting on 31 October 1906, there was discussion [1906c] of the correspondence, Saunder again joining the fray, this time to voice the opinion that the bright rays must be phenomena with causes deep-seated in the lunar globe, not mere surface features such as Tomkins proposed.
Tomkins visited the UK during 1907-08, residing temporarily in Canterbury. During this time, he attended several BAA meetings and took advantage of the opportunity to refine and promote his theory of the lunar rays. He attended the 18 December 1907 meeting [1907d], where he read two brief papers [1908a, 1908b]. The first, really more of a note, concerned approximately parallel formations of ridges on the lunar surface which he had noticed while studying photographs of bright lunar rays. He mentioned three instances as follows, inviting observers to take up detailed visual study of them:
The second paper detailed progress that he had made in studying alkali deposits in India. He had received assistance from many professional contacts in the Indian Civil Service and, although much information was still coming in, Tomkins thought that the overall shape of alkali deposits in the sub-continent itself resembled a ray system many hundreds of miles in extent. He distributed samples of alkali deposits from India. It was clear that, by this stage, Tomkins was gaining credit for his persistence and the diligence with which he was continuing to develop his theory. However, not everyone agreed with his views, since, following the meeting, J F Tennant, Lieutenant-General, RE, wrote to the BAA [1908c, 1908e] to the effect that he was familiar with the alkali deposits in India but did not believe that they could provide an explanation for the lunar bright rays.
Tomkins attended the meeting on 12 June 1908 [1908f], arguing once more in favour of his theory explaining the bright lunar rays. He attended the following BAA meeting too, on 01 July 1908 [1908g], reading another paper on the bright lunar rays [1908h]. The paper represented the development of his theory to a high degree; it was comprehensive, addressed many of the criticisms of early versions of the work, made wide reference to related work in the scientific literature, was supported by numerous photographs of geological features in India and included several practical experiments with models of alkali deposition. Tomkins' care and attention to detail was reflected in the ensuing debate, in which nobody ventured to identify any significant problems with the theory and, instead, the overall tone was highly congratulatory. Some time later, he responded [1908i] in the pages of JBAA to a query by E W Maunder concerning the paper.
Tomkins evidently returned to India after this. At a BAA meeting a year later [1909a], Goodacre gave an account of Tomkins' paper [1908h]. Tomkins himself contributed a short paper in JBAA [1909b] describing clear indications of subterranean upheaval of saline strata on the NW Frontier of India and providing an analysis of bright rays around Proclus based on observations made by Mr Dennett and others in 1879 and 1880.
Tomkins then contributed nothing significant on the subject of bright lunar rays for many years. However, a few years after he relocated to the UK, the debate unexpectedly re-ignited! At the BAA meeting on 29 April 1931 [1931g], Goodacre, still Director of the Lunar Section, displayed three photographs of the Moon taken with the 100" Hooker Telescope on Mount Wilson in October 1925. (Although the photographs were very detailed, they did not have quite the resolution of the very best lunar photographs from Mount Wilson.) At the previous meeting of the BAA [1931f], there had been discussion of craterlets on the rim of Tycho. Goodacre had been unable to see the features, and remarked also that they were not visible in the Mount Wilson photographs. He went on to read a paper [1931h] "The Bright Lunar Rays" in which, referring to one of the Mount Wilson photographs, he pointed out some areas of similarity and some of difference between various bright ray systems. He then called attention to the numerous bright spots on the lunar surface, each a craterlet which he thought was surrounded by bright ejecta, in some cases disposed as a miniature ray system. He concluded that there was a vast range of sizes of ray systems, all of which shared the same physical basis. Support for Goodacre's views came later in JBAA from J W Durrand [1931j]. Tomkins responded to Goodacre, referring to his earlier work on lunar bright rays, and described once again some of the investigations he had undertaken in India of saline efforescences, some of vast extent, which he believed formed a model to explain the features. Tomkins believed that the ultimate cause of the bright rays was volcanic, but some other members of the BAA present at the meeting did not agree that this could explain individual streaks of very great length. At the following BAA meeting, on 27 May 1931 [1931i], Tomkins exhibited slides illustrating bright lunar rays and described once more his theory explaining them as saline efflorescences from the soil, rather than volcanic ejecta. Later in JBAA [1931l], he responded to Durrad's paper, recommending that he study Tomkins' earlier publications on the subject.
After 1909, until leaving India permanently, Tomkins does not appear in JBAA in relation to bright lunar rays and it seems that he instead expended his energy during this period on establishing an Astronomical Society of India.
The first mention of the Society is in JBAA in 1911 [1911a], where it is said to run on lines broadly similar to the BAA, with Tomkins holding office as both President and Director of the Lunar Section. Tomkins, in the UK once more in 1915 and present at a meeting of the BAA [1915a], described the Society. It had grown out of an interest in astronomy among workers in his office, following the apparition of Comet Halley in 1910. Tomkins himself had been pivotal in its formation. The Society was led by Europeans, which presented problems, as they were all workers, not gentlemen of leisure, so had limited time to devote to hobbies! The constant change in expatriate personnel also created difficulties. Most members of the Society were Indians, and Tomkins was of the view that although they were skilled in mathematics, they were beginners at practical research work. As of 1914, there were some 150 members, including His Highness the Maharaj Rana of Jhalawar, a keen scientist. Several members had built, or were building, observatories. Meetings were held monthly, generally attended (outside the hot season) by 50 or 60 members. Tomkins had found it hard work and frustrating at first to get the Indian members to contribute to the discussion at meetings, finding instead that they preferred to deluge him with remarks after meetings were closed! He had persevered and had encouraged members to speak at meetings and to publish papers, and gradually matters had improved.
Early in the life of the Society, a meteorite had fallen in, or close to, the State of Jhalawar. His Highness the Maharaj Rana saw it and received a report that a large number of pieces had fallen. He despatched a man to collect the pieces which were duly retrieved and made available to the Society, then ultimately presented to Calcutta Museum, along with eye-witness accounts and a photograph of the trail of the meteorite.
Although the Society existed for several years, it appears to have been reliant on Tomkins' energy to sustain it and, unfortunately, it folded on his retirement [1935a].
The Memoirs of the BAA [1900a] and [1901b] contain detailed accounts of Tomkins' efforts to encourage meteor observing in India.
A solar total eclipse was visible from the UK on 29 June 1927. In preparation, the BAA meeting of 30 March 1927 [1927f] was devoted to matters relating to the eclipse. Tomkins contributed to the discussion, recounting his observation of the 1898 total eclipse which he had observed from Jeur (India); he had been most struck by the sudden onrush of the lunar shadow. Discussion of how best to observe the eclipse continued at the next BAA meeting, 25 May 1927 [1927g] and again Tomkins contributed, pointing out that there was still time for intending observers to construct instruments for the occasion. He also suggested that the position of known prominences should be announced shortly before the eclipse, to assist those who might wish to observe them.
There is no record of Tomkins observing the eclipse of 1927.
On relocating permanently to the UK, Tomkins indulged his passion for investigating the formation of lunar features. He was an ardent believer that lunar craters were volcanic in origin and debated his case at meetings [1925c, 1925d] of the BAA on 27 May and 24 June 1925, at which he mentioned carrying out small-scale experiments in the creation of model lunar craters using a pot holding approximately half a gallon of paraffin wax to represent the lunar surface. (Similar experimentation was also carried out by proponents of the meteoric theory of origin.) The debate continued in the pages of JBAA, see e.g. communications by H Percy Wilkins [1925f], A C Gifford [1925i] and A C D Crommelin [1926g].
In 1927, Tomkins published [1927d] a major paper in JBAA arguing that lunar features were largely igneous in origin. (He preferred the term igneous rather than volcanic as it encompassed a much wider set of processes in operation over geological time.) His arguments were very well researched, his case closely argued from observation of terrestrial geological features, and the paper was well received at its reading at the BAA meeting on 23 February 1927 [1927c]. There was subsequent correspondence in the pages of JBAA, e.g. [1927e].
Later in the year, he published two related papers in JBAA. One [1927k] considered the evident circularity of most lunar craters, a matter which had arisen during discussion of his theory of igneous formation; he explained the circularity in terms of the scale and symmetry of the underlying geological processes. To illustrate the point, he showed a slide of scars on the floor of Mare Nectaris, one of the first images obtained with his 24" Cassegrain reflector, recently brought into operation (see below). His second paper [1927l] began with a description of the key parameters of the 24" instrument and outlined his aim to secure a series of images of lunar formations under different conditions of illumination, to facilitate investigation of their physical characteristics and formation. He went on to bemoan the lack visual observers studying the lunar surface; this he put down to the recent publication of very detailed lunar maps by Walter Goodacre (Director of the BAA Lunar Section) and H Percy Wilkins; the detailed work by professor W H Pickering of Harvard Observatory on changes in lunar features; and the magnificent lunar photographs published by Mount Wilson Observatory, all of which had persuaded many potential visual observers that they could add little to the stock of knowledge. Tomkins called for visual observers to study the lunar surface with a view to shedding light on its physical evolution, for example studying the morphology of craters and cataloguing and counting different types so as to yield statistial information. He thought that this area was one in which the efforts of visual and photographic observers could complement one another very effectively.
Tomkins read his papers at the BAA meeting on 28 December 1927 [1927j]. The reaction was very favourable, both about the new telescope and the work which he was achieving with it. The next Lunar Section report [1928a] called for observers willing to undertake the kind of observations which he recommended. F J Sellers responded to Tomkins with a paper [1928b] giving the benefit of his experience of lunar photography; the most important single item of advice which he proferred was to use a very short exposure. At the next meeting of the BAA, on 29 February 1928 [1928c], Goodacre described what he proposed to put in place in response to Tomkins' suggestion about cataloguing lunar formations. He proposed to catalogue all lunar craters with central peaks and all without, and had already begun the work based on his recent lunar map, finding of named features, 215 craters with central peaks and 207 without. He called for additional observers to join the work, so that smaller, unnamed craters could also be catalogued.
Early the following year, Tomkins attended a meeting of the BAA on 30 May 1928 [1928e] at which Goodacre reported on progress by the Lunar Section in cataloguing features on the Moon. Eighteen members had volunteered for the task, but more were needed. Tomkins reinforced the need for observers to approach the task in an unbaised manner, to record exactly what they saw, and to record details under different conditions of illumination. Later during the meeting, he detailed his approach to developing photographic plates exposed with his 24" Cassegrain reflector.
In the lunar section report, Goodacre provided further details of activities cataloguing lunar craters [1928f]. Goodacre's lunar map was divided into 25 sections, and the 18 volunteer observers were disposed in pairs among nine of the sections, leaving 16 in need of additional volunteers. He then provided detailed instructions for observers about cataloguing individual craters as either with or without a central peak. Tomkins was paired with B O Wheeler to examine section 2 of the map; of the 18 observers, Tomkins had by far the largest instrument (the next largest was a 13" reflector owned by W Porthouse).
In the Lunar Section report for 1927-28, Goodacre noted [1928g] that Tomkins' 24" Cassegrain reflector was operational and that it was capable of producing photographs of the highest excellence. He also noted that the scheme for observing and cataloguing lunar craters had begun. F J Hargreaves, Director of the Photographic Section, also noted in his report for the year [1928h] that Tomkins' Cassegrain reflector was operational and that he had begun a systematic programme of photographic lunar observation.
A meeting of the BAA on 02 January 1929 [1929c] considered a proposal by Professor W H Pickering of Harvard Observatory for an international study of the Moon to search for evidence of changes in certain features. Tomkins gave his view that the supposed changes were in general associated with differences in illumination.
In early 1929, Mr J Blackhall had found evidence that craters in the fourth quadrant of the Moon had higher eastern ramparts than western. Following discussion with Goodacre, he had investigated the matter and contributed a paper to JBAA on the subject [1929h]. At a meeting of the BAA on 29 May 1929 [1929g], there was detailed discussion of the matter involving Goodacre, Tomkins and others. Several potential explanations were suggested, but the matter ultimately was clouded by uncertainty over the precise nature of the measurements upon which the supposed conclusion was based, and a clear consensus emerged that the heights of crater ramparts needed to be re-measured in a consistent manner.
Later in the year, C Potter reported [1929j] undertaking laboratory experiments applying forces to a vat of a secret, plastic, plaster-like material in an attempt to create crater-like formations in it. After much experimentation, he succeeded in refining the composition of the material and the kind and strength of force to apply to produce a reasonable likeness of a "typical" lunar crater. He concluded that each individual crater could have been formed very rapidly (on geological timescales), that formation would have taken place when the lunar surface was to an extent plastic, but not necessarily molten, and that force could have been applied through a lunar substratum by a number of mechanisms, not necessarily volcanic. Potter read his paper to a meeting of the BAA on 26 June 1929 [1929i] and it was subsequently discussed in some depth. Tomkins, based on his own experience with paraffin wax models of the lunar surface, was sceptical that the method could produce realistic models of craters, particularly in regard of accurately representing the walls. Potter, however, was insistent that the secret material which he used gave his models the edge in realism over those using paraffin wax or resin.
Shortly before the close of 1929, Tomkins reported [1929b] in MNRAS initial conclusions after running his photographic survey with the 24" Cassegrain reflector for two years. He called attention to three features that he was in the course of investigating:
By considering the order in which one feature was superimposed upon another, Tomkins was able to draw conclusions about the relative ages of the features concerned. The process, called stratigraphy, was much used in later years in piecing together an understanding of the evolution of the lunar surface. At the BAA meeting on 01 January 1930 [1930c], Tomkins showed many of the images described in the paper in MNRAS and essentially presented the substance of the paper. In his presentation, he thanked A F Bennett of Leiston for providing visual confirmation of one of his observations; Bennett in turn paid tribute to the fine work that Tomkins was doing.
In June 1930, Tomkins published [1930b] a further description of his investigations into lava flows and other features:
In late 1930, Tomkins communicated a paper by C G S Sandberg, DSc to JBAA, "On the Cause of the Difference in Brightness of Various Parts of the Lunar Surface" [1930k]. At the final meeting of the BAA of the year [1930m], held on 31 December, Tomkins gave a brief account of the paper, adding his own opinion that it failed to account for the roughness of the lunar surface, or sharp changes in tint or shading such as were sometimes evident. It is not at present known how the collaboration between Tomkins and Sandberg came about.
Also in late 1930, Goodacre provided an update in the Lunar Section report [1930g] on work to catalogue lunar craters with and without central peaks. He reported that some progress had been made, but that further reports were required, work was ongoing and he hoped to complete the project in 1931. He noted that Tomkins was continuing good work on lunar photography.
Towards the end of the year, at a meeting of the BAA on 26 November 1930, Potter gave an account of a paper on "Lunar Theories" and described further experiments using plastic material to recreate the profiles of lunar craters. Tomkins and others took part in the subsequent discussion [1930l].
At the end of the BAA meeting on 25 March 1931 [1931f], Tomkins described three sets of unusual features in plates of the Moon taken with his 24" reflector and asked for observers to study the features:
At a BAA meeting on 30 March 1932 [1932e], Tomkins described recent work based on photographs of the Moon taken with the 24" reflector. He concluded that there existed a dark lunar substratum, covered in part by a brighter ash-like substance. The latter covered both the lunar plains and mountainous areas.
His paper The Selenological Aspect of the Lunar Surface [1932b] published a month later in MNRAS must rank as the culmination of his investigation of lunar features. He used an approach similar to modern stratigraphical analysis and displayed three plates of the lunar surface, showing much detail. In the case of the Earth, geologists related features to an assumed datum surface known as the "substratum", a shell of molten basalt encircling the globe some 15 km under the continents. Tomkins argued that there was an analogous "lunar substratum" on the Moon, but at a much lesser distance below the surface. He thought that dark material evident in many areas of the lunar surface, through which features such as craters had apparently protruded, constituted the "lunar substratum", and provided a description of many features in support of his views. It is clear that the paper represented work in progress and it is likely, had Tomkins lived longer, that he would have returned to the subject in future work.
Tomkins established an observatory at his home at Dedham. He desribed his equipment in a report to the RAS in December 1927 [1927a], in his first annual report [1929a] to the RAS on the work of his observatory, and at a BAA meeting on 30 January 1929 [1929d]. A contemporary photograph of Tomkins' observatory may be found in [2020a].
His primary instrument was a 24" Cassegrain reflector which had grown out of a desire for a large telescope to photograph bright lunar rays. He had begun construction while in India and, by late 1927, the instrument was coming into use after approximately ten years work. The instrument had a focal length of 12’ 7.25" and was mounted equatorially in the style of a Cassegrain, with a 6.5" convex mirror and, just above the main mirror, a 5.5" flat. The main mirror was mounted in a heavy, cast-iron cell, hung on trunnions in a substantial cast-iron fork. The tube was open, hexagonal, with Russian pine splines running the full length, braced by steel wire. A thin, black, calico lining kept dust and stray light out of the tube. Tomkins had ground and polished the main mirror and convex mirror, and the flat and eyepieces were by Cooke of York. By rotating the flat, Tomkins could switch into the optical path an eyepiece, a camera or a second, larger camera with 2.25" Barlow lens. The instrument produced an image of the moon of diameter 5.25" in the first camera, or 11" in the second camera, magnified by the Barlow lens (he hoped to increase the magnification later).
At Dedham, he also had an 8.5” Newtonian reflector reserved for visual work. It was equatorially mounted and clock-driven; the main mirror was by With and the flat by Ellison; it had a declination circle but not an RA circle. In 1932, he presented the instrument to the BAA [1932f, 2016b]. It is likely that illness prevented him from using the instrument in the 1930s and he donated it rather than see it go unused. (The BAA catalogued the instrument as #46 and subsequently loaned it to a member for 60 years. Unfortunately, in the early 1990s, after the lender died and the instrument was collected, it was found to be incomplete and was written off.)
In 1925, Tomkins hosted a major event to inaugurate the Cassegrain reflector (before it became fully operational). R L T Clarkson wrote [1951a] of the event, over a quarter of a century later, as follows:
On October 3rd 1925, one of the biggest astronomical-social events ever held in East Anglia took place at East House, Dedham, when the 24-inch was officially opened, tea was served in a large marquee, and some hundreds of invited guests spent the afternoon viewing the various exhibits. There were 23 of these, which included models of the planets, models of lunar craters, drawings of planets, large numbers of photos, a scale model of the solar system stretching across the paddock, a demonstration of sun-spots in a dark room, projected through my 3.5 inch Wray onto a screen the other side, giving a six-foot diameter image of the sun and magnificent pictures of the spots, mottling of the sun, faculae, etc., and in another dark room Miss Vera Reynolds [2009a] gave a similar demonstration of the solar spectrum using a 3-inch of Tomkins.
In common with many telescopes, the Cassegrain reflector went through various improvements and developments over the years, the main ones being as follows.
At the BAA meeting on 28 November 1928 [1928k], Tomkins described a new electrically-controlled shutter which he used to obtain photographs of the Moon with the instrument. The device was built around a metronome, supplemented with small electromagnets to enable control of the shutter.
In late summer 1929, F J Hargreaves, Director of the BAA Photographic Section, in a Section report [1929k], noted that Tomkins had experimented with a new secondary mirror, giving a much greater magnification, but had abandoned it as in practice it was very difficult to use. He had fitted a small plane mirror and eyepiece, to enable him to watch through the telescope optical train for times of good seeing. (The mirror and eyepiece were removed from the optical train to take an exposure.)
In February 1930, Tomkins reported [1930a] to the RAS that he was investigating several interesting lunar features. He reported using Ilford Astra plates, which had a fine grain and provided excellent contrast. He also reported four improvements to the 24" instrument. He provided further details at a BAA meeting on 26 March 1930 [1930d], when he read a paper "Note on a New Plateholder for the 24-inch Cassegrain Reflector at Dedham" [1930e] which he had published in JBAA:
F J Hargreaves, Director of the BAA Photographic Section, in his report for October 1930 [1930h] noted that Tomkins was satisfied with the new plateholder on the 24" reflector. He had put to good effect the mount for colour filters, and had found that an orange filter enabled him to photograph the Moon in twilight, enabling him to obtain photographs of the young crescent phase.
In February 1931, Tomkins provided his customary annual report [1931a] to the RAS on the work of his observatory. He reported that the 24" Cassegrain had been in "continual use" and that he was very pleased with the new focussing arrangements and the new camera. He repeated much of the description of the camera given to the BAA on 26 March 1930 [1930e]. Unfortunately, he had found the subsidiary mirror and apparatus for watching the lunar image immediately prior to exposure to be very cumbersome and in constant need of adjustment. He had therefore abandoned it and instead purchased a 6" object glass by Cooke, had it tested and found excellent and intended to have it mounted in an ancilliary instrument fixed to the main telescope as a means of checking on the seeing immediately prior to starting an exposure. He had had the mirrors re-silvered again during the year.
In his February 1932 report to the RAS [1932a], Tomkins indicated that the year had not been very productive due to a combination of bad weather and illnes. Again he had had the mirrors of the Cassegrain reflector re-silvered. He had succeeded in obtaining photographs of the latter stages of the lunar eclipse of 26 September 1931.
Tomkins' annual report [1933a] to the RAS for February 1933 confirmed that the 24" Cassegrain reflector had been in use whenever possible and that the 6" Cooke guide-scope had proved its value. He had exposed an infra-red plate during the lunar eclipse of 14 September 1932, but it had failed to record the eclipse. During the year, he had begun grinding a 30" glass disk, using the grinding machine used for the 24" mirror. He intended to replace the 24" mirror with the 30" one when it was finished, to give a considerable increase in the power of the instrument. His efforts to increase the size of the reflector were also noted by the BAA President, Major A E Levin, at the Association's annual general meeting on 26 October 1932 [1932h]; Levin described the work as heroic!
Tomkins was aknowledged as one of the leading telescope constructors and photographers of his day and his views were therefore naturally sought on instruments constructed by others. Thus, at the BAA meeting on 27 November 1929 [1929m], when Mr G H Hamilton described construction of his 21" reflecting telescope at Mandeville, Jamaica, Tomkins was among members involved in the subsequent discussion, offering advice on potential developments and improvements. Again, at a BAA meeting on 25 February 1931 [1931d], Captain Ainslie presented a paper by Horace Dall [1931e] on "Some Optical Considerations in the Construction of Cassegrain Telescopes". Tomkins and others took part in the subsequent discussion. Tomkins drew attention to difficulties caused in lunar or solar observation by the small size of the diagonal mirror or prism. Dall responded to Tomkins in an addendum to the paper, and it is clear that the two men disagreed fundamentally about the point.
Unsurprisingly, given his interest in photography, Tomkins joined the Royal Photographic Society (RPS). He became a member in 1928 and gained his Associate the same year and Fellowship in 1929. A notice regretting his death, but giving no further obituary, was published in the Society’s Journal in 1935. In September 2017, Dr Michael Pritchard, FRPS, Chief Executive of the RPS, researched Tomkins' appearance in the Journal between 1928 and 1934. Tomkins read a paper to the Scientific and Technical Group and exhibited some photography, amongst other activities. References and relevant pages of the Journal may be found here.
When the 24" Cassegrain reflector became operational, Tomkins began a programme to capture a series of photographs of the Moon, enabling comparison of features under different conditions of illumination, hoping that this would support investigation of their formation (noting that the available lunar atlases contained generally very few images of each feature). He started his photographic survey in Mare Nectaris and his collection of plates grew as follows:
He exhibited photographs taken with the instrument as follows:
At a meeting of the BAA on 22 February 1933 [1933b], the BAA President, W Alfred Parr, expressed regret at the absence, through extended illness, of Tomkins, who had written to say how sorry he was at missing the presentation of many interesting lunar papers. At a meeting of the BAA three months later [1933c], he indicated that Tomkins' health had recently improved and he might be able to attend the June 1933 meeting of the Association.
Tomkins' final annual report [1934a] to the RAS, in February 1934, reported that he had undertaken little observational work due to illness. Analysis of plates already captured was proceeding, as was construction of the 30" mirror. At a meeting of the BAA on 28 February 1934 [1934b], Parr, still President, regretted Tomkins' absence, as he had practically finished the new 30" telescope.
On 17 July 1934, Tomkins died at his home at Dedham. The report of the Council of the BAA [1934c] for the session 01 October 1933 to 30 September 1934 noted with regret his death. At the BAA annual general meeting on 31 October 1934 [1934e], the President regretted his passing and provided a very brief summary of his astronomical activities.
Following Tomkins' death, his widow disposed of much of his astronomical equipment. She put up for sale his private library of books and collections of RAS Monthly Notices and Memoirs [1934d, 1934g], and presented his theodolite and lantern slides to the BAA [1934f, 1934i, 1935b]. She presented [1935a] his collection of lunar photographs to the RAS, his telescope to Kyoto University, Japan, and his optical grinding apparatus to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich [1936a].
A F Bennett contributed Tomkins' obituary in JBAA [1934h]. He comented on Tomkins' mechanical bent, which enabled him to design and construct his own astronomical apparatus, on his zealous, eager, and untiring approach to everything that he undertook, and on his boyish enthusiasm for everything that he undertook and his loathing of half-measures. Bennett also mentioned the many who would recall a happy visit to his home at Dedham.
Tomkins' obituary in MNRAS [1935a] described him as enthusiastic and companionable, with a passion for music, and mentioned the many who visited his home at Dedham to share his interest in astronomy and other activities.
A short obituary of Tomkins was published in the Publications of the Astronomy Society of the Pacific [1934j].
Tomkins contributed in a minor way to discussion at many meetings of the BAA and submitted occasional brief descriptions of his activities to JBAA. Note that in some cases, he made a substantive contribution to a meeting, plus contributed in a minor way to other discussions - such cases are indicated below with a reference to the substantive contribution marked "details above".
27 November 1907
Visiting the UK at the time, attended the meeting and contributed briefly to a discussion about visibility of the disk of Neptune, stating that he had seen the disk with no difficulty at all through a 6" diameter instrument in India approximately 10 years previously.
29 April 1908
Visiting the UK at the time, attended the meeting and made minor contributions to debates about sunsets and counting.
30 April 1919
During a discussion of lunar furrows, Tomkins made reference to his 1908 paper [1908a] about parallel features on the lunar surface.
27 October 1920
Submitted an observing report of the lunar eclipse of 27 October 1920 to the BAA. He observed with a party of friends from the roof of his house in Barrackpore using a variety of small optical instruments. He reported that the penumbral shadow was exceptionally light.
27 June 1923
Contributed briefly to discussion of the flat mirrors in reflecting telescopes. Later returned to the subject in correspondence in the pages of JBAA.
[1923a, 1923b, 1923c]
30 April 1924
Mr F J Hargreaves spoke about colour photography of the lunar surface. Tomkins had previously corresponded with him on the subject and made reference to the correspondence during the meeting.
25 February 1925
Made two small contributions to the meeting:
22 July 1925
The meeting was specially convened between the BAA and IAU (International Astronomical Union). Tomkins briefly joined the conversation about construction of the solar observatory at Arcetri. Optical components for the observatory were provided by Germany as reparations for the First World War, under the Treaty of Versailles.
30 December 1925
Contributed briefly to two areas of debate:
24 February 1926
During a discussion on knots in meteor trails, Tomkins contributed two slides showing meteor trails, one by Norman Lockyer and the other by a soldier in India taken in 1910.
30 June 1926
Contributed briefly to two areas of debate:
27 October 1926
Proposed the vote of thanks to the BAA auditor, Roy Suttill.
26 January 1927
Contributed briefly to discussion of sunspots and of aurorae.
06 July 1927
Proposed Mr W D Macpherson and Mr A R Wesley as scrutineers of the ballot for council members.
30 May 1928
The meeting was attended by Edwin Hubble of Mount Wilson Observatory. Tomkins contributed to a discussion about silvering the optical surfaces of reflecting telescopes during which Hubble revealed that the Mount Wilson 100" reflector was re-silvered twice a year. (Earlier in the meeting, Tomkins had reinforced the need for lunar observers cataloguing features to approach the task in an unbaised manner - details above.)
31 October 1928
Proposed the vote of thanks to retiring council members.
28 November 1928
A M Newbegin, Director of the Solar Section, described recent work by the Section, including observation of prominences. Tomkins remarked that some of the prominences appeared similar to those which he had seen at the 1898 total eclipse in Jeur, India. Later at the same meeting, Tomkins described a new electrically-controlled shutter for his 24" Cassegrain refractor - details above.
02 January 1929
Commented on the labour that would have been required to construct a stand for a telescope thought to have been owned by the late R A Proctor. (Earlier in the meeting, in response to a proposal by Professor W H Pickering, Tomkins had expressed the view that supposed changes in the lunar surface were generally due to differing illumination - details above.)
27 February 1929
Contributed briefly to the discussion following a description by E H Collinson of his automatic meteor camera.
24 April 1929
Exhibited a globe to facilitate transformation of coordinates.
29 October 1930
Proposed re-election of the BAA auditor, Roy Suttill.
28 January 1931
Thomas L MacDonald read a paper on "Studies in Lunar Statistics" in which he tabulated the dimensions of lunar features and fitted mathematical models describing the relationship between the height of the central peak of a crater and its diameter. Tomkins expressed great interest in the paper. Later in the meeting, Tomkins showed slides of star fields photographed with three-hour exposures, hand-guided. The results were described as wonderful.
25 March 1931
Tomkins had a very busy meeting! He first participated in a discussion about solar photography. Later, Mr Bartrum presented a further paper by Thomas MacDonald on lunar statistics and Tomkins remarked that the work was likely to be of great value. Later still, Tomkins participated in a discussion about roofs on small, amateur observatories. Finally, he described three sets of unusual features in plates of the Moon taken with his 24" reflector - details above.
24 June 1931
Participated in discussions about solar observing and a meteorite which had probably fallen to the ground on 14 April 1931.
25 November 1931
Showed photographs taken with his 24" reflector of the lunar eclipse of 26 September 1931. One of his photographs (reproduced on right) later featured in JBAA along with an observing report [1932c]. Tomkins missed the first part of the eclipse due to cloud. The eclipse had been very bright and noticeably red and he observed visually a curious effect as the shadow passed over Maria Tranquillitatis and Fecunditatis: the dark floors of the seas accentated the penumbral shadow and made it appear as if the umbral shadow were still present, though it had passed off. This resulted in uncertainty at the meeting as to whether or not Tomkins' photographs included part of the umbra.
[1931n, 1931o, 1932c]
30 December 1931
Contributed to a debate on the dewing of optical surfaces.
24 February 1932
Contributed to discussions on the formation of lunar features and on processes for silvering mirrors.
30 March 1932
Participated in a discussion of the Tunguska meteorite of 1908. (Earlier in the meeting, Tomkins showed photographs of the Moon from which he deduced the existence of a dark lunar substratum - details above.)
25 May 1932
Participated in a short discussion of the Doppelmayer Cleft (a lunar feature).
"Candidates for Election as Members of the Association, 31 May 1899", JBAA, vol. 9, p.288, 1899.
"New Members of the Association, Elected 31 May 1899", JBAA, vol. 9, p.347, 1899.
Lunar Section Report, JBAA, vol. 9, p.416, 1899.
"Report of the Meteor Section, 1898", Memoirs of the BAA, vol. 8, part 1, no. 1, pp.6-7, 1900. (The pages are also numbered as pp.106-107.)
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 29 May 1901, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 11, pp.301-309, 1901.
"Report of the Meteor Section, 1899", Memoirs of the BAA, vol. 9, part 1, no. 1, pp.7-9, 1901. (The pages are also numbered as pp.129-131.)
H G Tomkins, "The Lunar Light-Rays", Memoirs of the BAA, vol. 13, pp.90-91, 1905.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 20 June 1906, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 16, pp.331-342, 1906.
H G Tomkins, "The Bright Rays on the Moon", JBAA, vol. 16, pp.359-366, 1906.
Report of the Annual Meeting of the Association, 31 October 1906, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 17, pp.1-15, 1906.
H G Tomkins, "Supplementary Note Showing Some of the Difficulties Which I Find in Prof. Pickering's Ice Theory", JBAA, vol. 17, pp.24-25, 1906.
Professor W H Pickering, "The Bright Streaks Upon the Moon", JBAA, vol. 17, pp.25-28, 1906.
H G Tomkins, "The Bright Rays of the Moon", Popular Astronomy, vol. 15, pp.296-301, 1907.
H G Tomkins, "The Bright Rays of the Moon", JBAA, vol. 17, pp.227-231, 1907.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 27 November 1907, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 18, pp.69-77, 1907.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 18 December 1907, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 18, pp.105-116, 1907.
H G Tomkins, "Note on Certain Approximately Parallel Formations on the Lunar Surface", JBAA, vol. 18, pp.125-126, 1908.
H G Tomkins, "Note on the Bright Rays on the Moon", JBAA, vol. 18, pp.126-128, 1908.
J F Tennant, "Mr Tomkins' Theory of the Bright Rays on the Moon", JBAA, vol. 18, pp.178, 1908.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 29 April 1908, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 18, pp.269-27, 1908.
J F Tennant, "The Bright Lunar Rays", JBAA, vol. 18, pp.332, 1908.
Notes of Meeting Held 12 June 1908 at the RAS, JBAA, vol. 18, pp.334-335, 1908.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 01 July 1908, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 18, pp.349-355, 1908.
H G Tomkins, "The Lunar Bright Rays", JBAA, vol. 18, pp.361-378, 1908.
H G Tomkins, "The Lunar Bright Rays", JBAA, vol. 18, pp.386-388, 1908.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 07 July 1909, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 19, pp.367-372, 1909.
H G Tomkins, "Note on the Lunar Bright Rays", JBAA, vol. 19, pp.385-386, 1909.
"The Astronomical Society of India", JBAA, vol. 21, p.282, 1911.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 26 May 1915, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 25, pp.325-335, 1915.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 30 April 1919, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 29, pp.149-151, 1919.
H G Tomkins, "Report on the Total Eclipse of the Moon at Barrackpore, India, 27 October 1920", JBAA, vol. 31, pp.108-109, 1920.
Candidates for Election as Members of the Association 26 October 1921, JBAA, vol. 31, p.359, 1921.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 27 June 1923, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 33, pp.305-313, 1923.
H G Tomkins, "Reflector Adjustments", JBAA, vol. 33, p.343, 1923.
Rev C D P Davies, "Reflector Adjustments", JBAA, vol. 34, p.20, 1923.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 30 April 1924, at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 34, pp.209-218, 1924.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 25 February 1925 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 35, pp.145-154, 1925.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 29 April 1925 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 35, p.213, 1925.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 27 May 1925 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 35, pp.214-224, 1925.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 24 June 1925 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 35, pp.245-257, 1925.
Report of the Special Meeting of the Association for Members of the IAU, 22 July 1925 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 35, pp.258-269, 1925.
H Percy Wilkins, "Lunar Formations", JBAA, vol. 35, pp.308-309, 1925.
Officers and Council, JBAA, vol. 36, pp.18-19, 1925.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 30 December 1925 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 36, pp.69-77, 1925.
A C Gifford, "The Origin of Lunar Craters", JBAA, vol. 36, pp.84-86, 1925.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 24 February 1926 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 36, pp.133-143, 1926.
The Honorary Secretary, JBAA, vol. 36, p.268, 1926.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 30 June 1926 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 36, pp.269-277, 1926.
Candidates for Election as Members of the Association 27 October 1926, JBAA, vol. 36, p.319, 1926.
Report of the Annual Meeting of the Association, 27 October 1926 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 37, pp.1-19, 1926.
Officers and Council, JBAA, vol. 37, pp.21-22, 1926.
A C D Crommelin, "The Crater 'Coon Butte'", JBAA, vol. 37, pp.67-68, 1926.
H G Tomkins, "Note on Photography and the Physical Condition of the Moon", MNRAS, vol. 88, pp.158-159, December 1927.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 26 January 1927 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 37, pp.117-127, 1927.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 23 February 1927 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 37, pp.149-158, 1927.
H G Tomkins, "The Igneous Origin of some of the Lunar Formations", JBAA, vol. 37, pp.161-181, 1927.
Gavin J Burns, "Origin of the Lunar Formations", JBAA, vol. 37, p.184, 1927.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 30 March 1927 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 37, pp.193-205, 1927.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 25 May 1927 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 37, pp.246-254, 1927.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 06 July 1927 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 37, pp.289-302, 1927.
Officers and Council, JBAA, vol. 38, pp.21-22, 1927.
Report of the Ordinary Meeting of the Association, 28 December 1927 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 38, pp.86-91, 1927.
H G Tomkins, "The Circularity of Certain Lunar Formations", JBAA, vol. 38, pp.91-93, 1927.
H G Tomkins, "Note on Lunar Observations", JBAA, vol. 38, pp.93-96, 1927.
Lunar Section Report, JBAA, vol. 38, p.117, 1928.
F J Sellers, "Note on Lunar Photography with Small Telescopes", JBAA, vol. 38, pp.117-120, 1928.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 29 February 1928 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 38, p.193, 1928.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 25 April 1928 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 38, p.193, 1928.
Report of the Ordinary Meeting of the Association, 30 May 1928 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 38, pp.195-203, 1928.
Walter Goodacre, "Lunar Section Interim Report", JBAA, vol. 38, pp.216-218, 1928.
Walter Goodacre, "Lunar Section Report", JBAA, vol. 38, p.283, 1928.
F J Hargreaves, "Photographic Section Report", JBAA, vol. 38, p.288-289, 1928.
Report of the Ordinary Meeting of the Association, 31 October 1928 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 39, pp.17-19, 1928.
Officers and Council, JBAA, vol. 39, pp.19-20, 1928.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 28 November 1928 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 39, pp.41-49, 1928.
"Mr H G Tomkins’s Observatory, Dedham, Essex", MNRAS, vol. 89, pp.357-358, February 1929.
H G Tomkins, "Three Features of the Lunar Crust, from Photographs taken at Dedham", MNRAS, vol. 90, pp.198-201, December 1929.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 02 January 1929 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 39, pp.69-77, 1929.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 30 January 1929 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 39, pp.101-108, 1929.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 27 February 1929 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 39, pp.137-142, 1929.
Report of the Ordinary Meeting of the Association, 24 April 1929 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 39, p.230, 1929.
Report of the Ordinary General Meeting of the Association, 29 May 1929 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 39, pp.231-237, 1929.
J Blackhall, "Lunar Ramparts in the Third and Fourth Quadrants", JBAA, vol. 39, pp.245-247, 1929.
Report of the Ordinary General Meeting of the Association, 26 June 1929 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 39, pp.269-279, 1929.
C Potter, "Possible Origin of Lunar Craters", JBAA, vol. 39, pp.324-326, 1929.
F J Hargreaves, "Photographic Section Report", JBAA, vol. 38, pp.347-349, 1929.
Report of the Ordinary General Meeting of the Association, 30 October 1929 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 39, pp.21-22, 1929.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 27 November 1929 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 40, pp.21-22, 1929.
"Mr H G Tomkins’s Observatory, Dedham, Essex", MNRAS, vol. 90, pp.419-420, February 1930.
H G Tomkins, "Three Further Features of the Lunar Crust, from Photographs taken at Dedham", MNRAS, vol. 90, pp.767-768, June 1930.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 01 January 1930 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 40, pp.97-111, 1930.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 26 March 1930 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 40, pp.185-197, 1930.
H G Tomkins, "Note on a New Plateholder for the 24-inch Cassegrain Reflector at Dedham", JBAA, vol. 40, pp.220-222, 1930.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 30 April 1930 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 40, pp.241-242, 1930.
Lunar Section Report, JBAA, vol. 40, p.365, 1930.
Photographic Section Report, JBAA, vol. 40, pp.372-373, 1930.
Report of the Annual General Meeting of the Association, 29 October 1930 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.1-17, 1930.
Officers and Council, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.20-21, 1930.
C G S Sandberg, DSc, "On the Cause of the Difference in Brightness of Various Parts of the Lunar Surface", JBAA, vol. 41, pp.34-36, 1930.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 26 November 1930 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.55-59, 1930.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 30 December 1930 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.107-112, 1930.
"Mr H G Tomkins’s Observatory, Dedham, Essex", MNRAS, vol. 91, pp.371-372, February 1931.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 28 January 1931 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.155-160, 1931.
Thomas L MacDonald, "Studies in Lunar Statistics, Second Paper, The Distribution of Lunar Altitudes", JBAA, vol. 41, pp.172-183, 1931.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 25 February 1931 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.215-219, 1931.
H E Dall, "Some Optical Considerations in the Construction of Cassegrain Telescopes", JBAA, vol. 41, pp.224-228, 1931.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 25 March 1931 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.273-276, 1931.
Report of the Meeting of the Association, 29 April 1931 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.319-323, 1931.
Walter Goodacre, "The Bright Lunar Rays", JBAA, vol. 41, pp.329-330, 1931.
Report of the Ordinary General Meeting of the Association, 27 May 1931 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.364-366, 1931.
J W Durrad, "The Bright Lunar Rays", JBAA, vol. 41, pp.387, 1931.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 24 June 1931 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 41, pp.399-403, 1931.
H G Tomkins, "The Lunar Bright Rays", JBAA, vol. 41, pp.429, 1931.
Officers and Council, JBAA, vol. 42, p.17, 1931.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 25 November 1931 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 42, pp.53-56, 1931.
H G Tomkins, "The Lunar Eclipse, 26 September 1931", JBAA, vol. 42, no. 3, p.iii, 1931.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 30 December 1931 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 42, pp.91-95, 1931.
"Mr H G Tomkins’s Observatory, Dedham, Essex", MNRAS, vol. 92, p.303, February 1932.
H G Tomkins, "The Selenological Aspect of the Lunar Surface", MNRAS, vol. 92, pp.557-561, April 1932.
H G Tomkins, "The Lunar Eclipse 1931, September 26", JBAA, vol. 42, p.111, 1932. See also the frontispiece (before p.91) for Tomkins' photograph of the eclipse.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 24 February 1932 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 42, pp.163-165, 1932.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 30 March 1932 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 42, pp.197-201, 1932.
Presentation of 8.5-inch Reflector, JBAA, vol. 42, pp.229, 1932.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 25 May 1932 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 42, pp.273-278, 1932.
Report of the Annual General Meeting of the Association, 26 October 1932 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 43, pp.1-17, 1932.
Officers and Council, JBAA, vol. 43, pp.19-20, 1932.
"Mr H G Tomkins’s Observatory, Dedham, Essex", MNRAS, vol. 93, p.268, February 1933.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 22 February 1933 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 43, pp.183-187, 1933.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 31 May 1933 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 43, pp.315-322, 1933.
"Mr H G Tomkins’s Observatory, Dedham, Essex", MNRAS, vol. 94, p.321, February 1934.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 28 February 1934 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 44, pp.173-177, 1934.
Report of the Council on the Work of the Session, 1933 October 1 to 1934 September 30, JBAA, vol. 44, pp.361-383, 1934.
For Sale By Mrs H G Tomkins, JBAA, vol. 45, no. 1, p.ii, 1934.
Report of the Annual General Meeting of the Association, 31 October 1934 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 45, pp.1-16, 1934.
Report of the Ordinary General Meeting of the Association, 31 October 1934 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 45, pp.16-19, 1934.
For Sale By Mrs H G Tomkins, JBAA, vol. 45, no. 2, p.ii, 1934.
A F Bennett, "Obituary of Herbert Gerard Tomkins", JBAA, vol. 45, pp.80-82, 1934.
Instrument Collection Additions, JBAA, vol. 45, p.95, 1934.
Obituary of Herbert Gerard Tomkins, MNRAS, vol. 91, pp.332-333, February 1935.
Report of the General Meeting of the Association, 02 January 1935 at Sion College, JBAA, vol. 45, pp.97-103, 1935.
Correspondence from R L T Clarkson to D J Fulcher, March 1951. (Suffolk Record Office Holding GC14/B1/2.)
Anthony J Kinder, "Figures From the Past, No. 1: Mrs Vera Reade FRAS (1905-86)", JBAA, vol. 119, pp.13-16, 2009.
Family history records at www.ancestry.co.uk accessed October 2016 by Bill Barton.
Email correspondence between Bill Barton and Bob Marriott, BAA Instruments and Imaging Section Director, 24-25 October 2016.
Richard McKim, "Roland L T Clarkson: A Suffolk Astronomer", JBAA, vol. 36, no. 2, pp.83-94, May 1926.
James Appleton, Bill Barton, FRAS, Ken Goward, FRAS