Orwell Astronomical Society (Ipswich)

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Appointment of Honorary President and Honorary Members

Following a unanimous vote at our 2002 AGM and the acceptance of subsequent formal invitations, it is with considerable pleasure that we are able to announce the appointment of an Honorary President and three new honorary members viz:

Allan_Chapman.jpg Allan Chapman at Astrofest 2002.

Allan Chapman is a professional historian of science at the Faculty of Modern History, Oxford and a member of Wadham College. He obtained his BA (first class) at Lancaster University and a D.Phil in the History of Science at Oxford in 1972. His MA came at Oxford in 1983. Allan has written a number of authoritative books on the history of astronomy, including Dividing the Circle (1995), Astronomical Instruments and Their Users (1996) and The Victorian Amateur Astronomer (1998). He has also written many articles and papers for international academic journals and is popularly known for his regular articles in Astronomy Now. He gave the Wilkins Prize Lecture in the history of science at the Royal Society in 1994, speaking on Edmond Halley. He became the Medal Lecturer at the Royal Institution in 1997. His fame goes before him on the astronomy society lecture circuit and (although he wouldn't admit it) he is very much the "star turn" at Astrofest each year. He has also made a number of TV appearances on Open University Programmes and The Sky at Night. Sometime in April 2002 (on Sunday evenings) he will be appearing in a new three part documentary series on Channel 4 entitled Gods in the Sky, which explores early religious beliefs and the relationship to astronomical thinking.

Allan has agreed that, from time to time, as his extremely busy diary may allow, he will give Presidential Lectures to OASI. Such lectures, subject to confirmation, would be held at the delightful Orwell Park School Orangery and in association with the School. Further details will be announced when they become available.

Allan is widely regarded as the leading authority on Sir George Biddell Airy (7th Astronomer Royal). The long-term restoration and operation of the Orwell Park Observatory undertaken by members of OASI has made a major impression upon Allan, and the historic link between OASI and the descendants of Airy is one of the reasons why Allan holds our society in high regard. In accepting our Chairman's formal invitation to become Honorary President, Allan writes:

I shall, of course, be absolutely honoured and delighted to accept the Presidency of the Orwell Astronomical Society. Thank you very much, and please convey my appreciation, and best wishes, for their kind and unanimous vote, to the members. It was also a delightful gesture by the Society to extend honorary membership of the Society to members of the Airy family.

Nicole Airy Swengley is Sir G B Airy's great-great-granddaughter and lives in London. She writes:

I feel sure the compliment being paid to Sir George Airy's great-great-granddaughter would be a source of satisfaction to him. Please will you thank the society members who have been so kind in wholeheartedly endorsing this tribute to his memory.

James Airy and Elizabeth Amati are brother and sister, respectively godson and goddaughter to Anna Airy, Wilfrid Airy's daughter (Wilfrid was the design engineer for the building of the Orwell Park Observatory). James lives in Hampshire and writes:

I would consider it to be an honour to be associated with your society and the observatory which you have brought so splendidly back to life.

Elizabeth lives in London and writes:

I feel very honoured to accept the privilege of being made an honorary member of the Orwell Astronomical Society Ipswich. Thank you!

The Committee of OASI considers it a huge privilege to have the support of our new honorary President and honorary members. Allan, Nicole, James and Elizabeth: we look forward to a long and happy association with you!

Ken Goward, FRAS