Skip to main content Skip to navigation

The History of Astronomy in Coventry

The Astronomy and Astrophysics group at the University of Warwick was founded by Professor Thomas R. Marsh in 2003. However this wasn't the first time astronomy was undertaken in Coventry and the surrounding area.

In the medieval period Coventry was a thriving city, host to an abbey and a cathedral. As the industrial revolution progressed it became known for a number of skilled artisinal trades, notably watch-making and ribbon making, and then still later for the cycle, motor cycle and motor vehicle manufacturing industries. These trades led to a large population of technically knowledgeable and skilled individuals, with increasing affluence, rising to prominence through the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A number of these became deeply involved in astronomy, well before professional astronomy found a home in the city.

Bahne Bonniksen

Bahne Bonniksen (1859-1936) was an amateur astronomer and watch manufacturer who invented a ground-breaking new movement for clocks, producing highly accurate watches for nautical navigation.

William Andrews

Ribbon manufacturer William Andrews (1835-1914) was a keen amateur astronomer and scientific polymath, who was reported his observations to the wider community.

Howard Miles

Howard Miles (1922-2016) was a lecturer at Coventry University and an amateur astronomer and president of the British Astronomical Association and in particular its satellite observation programme.

Samuel Watson

Samuel Watson (c.1635-1710) was a watchmaker and Mathematician in Ordinary to the king. He manufactured exquisite astronomical clocks, and also served as sheriff of Coventry

John Oswin

John Oswin (c.1735-1800) was an eighteenth century Coventry banking clerk. His will provides evidence for the way astronomical machines were starting to become available.

Capt. G T Smith-Clarke

Coventry engineer George Smith-Clarke (1884-1960) was remarkable for his contributions to vehicle design, astronomical instrumentation and medical technology.

Public Astronomy Lectures

Popular astronomical lectures have been a recurrent event in Coventry over the centuries. Here we look at a few of these lectures and their lecturers.

Warwick University Astronomy and Astrophysics

A brief history of the Warwick University Astronomy and Astrophysics research group, founded in 2003.

Coventry and Warwick Astronomical Society

Originally founded in 1939, CaWAS is the leading society of amateur astronomers in Coventry in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The University Extension Society

Coventry University Extension Society catered for the Victorian passion for self-improvement, providing access to higher education for those unable to access universities, including women and those from less privileged backgrounds.

Eclipses in Coventry

Coventry has seen a number of eclipses (both solar and lunar) ranging from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first. Here we mention a few of the observations taken or reported from the city and its residents.

Coventry Asteroids

Several main belt asteroids are named with Coventry connections. A few of these are described here