Astronomy in Leicestershire title image

British Association Meetings, Leicester, 1907 and 1933

The full name of the British Association was the British Association for the Advancement of Science. It is now called the British Science Association.

July 1907

In 1907 the British Association held its first meeting in Leicester. The President, Sir David Gill, had just left his post as Astronomer Royal at the Cape of Good Hope. The topics covered in his Presidential Address on 31st July included: The Solar Parallax, The Stellar Universe, The Constitution of the Universe, Stellar Parallax, Secular Parallactic Motion of Stars, The Sun's Motion in Space, Varieties of Luminosity of Stars and the Future Course of Research.

On August 1st Lord Kelvin read a paper on "the motions of ether produced by collision of atoms or molecules, containing or not containing electrions." (An electrion was defined as "an atom of resinous electricity, commonly hitherto called negative electricity.")

September 1933

The Times, 13 Sept 1933, British Association, Eddington - Expanding Universe

On September 12th, Sir Arthur Eddington read a paper on "The Expanding Universe". He spoke in favour of the idea, despite the fact that at the time, the measured rate of expansion made the age of the universe less than that of the Earth. There was not yet enough data, and there were great uncertainties in that data.

Note: The Times gives Eddington's value for the Hubble Constant as "780 kilometres per second per parsec". Hubble had calculated about 500 km/s/Mpc. It seems that "mega" is missing before "parsec" in The Times. The value of the Hubble Constant, determined (appropriately) using the Hubble Telescope in 2001, is about 72 km/s/Mpc.

There is a book with this title and published in the same year in the University of Leicester Library.

During the meeting members visited nearby places of interest. These included Taylor, Taylor and Hobson (now Cooke Optics) optical works in Leicester. A 4 inch lens made by the company for the Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa (now part of the South African Astronomical Observatory), was amongst exhibits shown at one of the evening receptions.


British Science Association (formerly: British Association for the Advancement of Science)

Hubble's law (Wikipedia)


President's address to the British Association at Leicester, 1907, The Observatory, Vol. 30, p. 299-306 (1907) [extract]

"British Association", Leicester, July 31, The Times, Thursday, August 01, 1907, pp7-8. Includes Sir David Gill's address in full.

"British Association", Leicester, Aug 1, The Times, Friday, August 02, 1907, p9. Lord Kelvin's paper.

Astronomers of the Royal Observatory Cape of Good Hope: David Gill (1879–1907) [pdf]


"The British Association, The Expanding Universe, Sir A. Eddington's Views", Leicester, Sept. 12, The Times, Wednesday, September 13, 1933, p5.

"The British Association meeting, 1933 September 6-13", The Observatory, 1933, Vol. 56, p289-291

Report of the Annual Meeting, (103rd Year) Leicester, September 6-13, 1933


Last updated 8th August, 2013.

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