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Burlington House

A Virtual Tour of the RAS Premises: The First Floor

The first floor landing leads to the Society’s Library, the Rare Books Room, the Librarian’s office and the Herschel Room, which houses the British Astronomical Association.
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Above the door to the Librarian’s office are portraits of the Reverend Lewis Evans, a great collector of instruments. To his right is a member of the Tully family of Islington who were famous instrument makers. Below are Sir William and Lady Huggins. William was an English amateur astronomer who built a private observatory at Tulse Hill in South London in 1856. He was a pioneer in spectroscopy and photography and together with the active collaboration of his wife played a part in developing the combined use of the telescope, spectroscope and the photographic negative. In 1899 they jointly prepared an Atlas of Representative Stellar Spectra. He was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Gold Medal in 1867 and again in 1885, and was president of the Royal Society from 1900–1906

The Library

The Main Library houses the main collection of post-1850 books. Older books are kept in the reserve collection, in the RAS annexe above the Geological Society.
The library is also used for receptions including those which follow Society meetings which  held on the second Friday of the month.

The large portrait dominating the Library is of Francis Baily, one of the founders of the Society and a four-time President. He is best remembered for Baily’s beads but was also important for laying the foundations of 19th-century astronomy by publishing a long series of star catalogues. These culminated in the British Association Catalogue, published after his death, which sorted out the positions of thousands of previously observed stars. He was a stockbroker who retired at 51 and devoted himself to astronomy. Next
Also of interest: A brief history of the Society