John Pringle Nichol: Abstract of Astronomical Lectures Delivered at the University of Glasgow, Session 1837-1838

Glasgow: 1837-1838
Sp Coll MS Gen 879

John Pringle Nichol (1804–1859) was the fifth Professor of Astronomy at the University of Glasgow. These lecture notes date from soon after his appointment in 1836. They begin with instructions for the use of astronomical instruments. They proceed to record Nichol’s instruction on observation of the stars and their motions and the determination of time, day-length, latitude and longitude. Tides and solar, lunar and planetary tables are also discussed. These contents reflect Nichol’s interest in creating a practical course of astronomy relevant for “nautical purposes” such as navigation. Numerous illustrative examples, diagrams and problems are reproduced in the notes.

Nichol worked hard to excite interest in astronomy beyond the university, and taught a popular course, with less emphasis on mathematics, for a general audience. He also published several popular works and inspired the establishment of “The Friends of Astronomical Science of Glasgow”. The society supported construction of a new observatory at Dowanhill, which was taken over by the university in 1844.

 Title Page from Nichol's 'Abstract of Astronomical Lectures'
Image: title page with latin motto at the foot.

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