Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy

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The Plumian chair of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy is one of the major Professorships in Astronomy at Cambridge University, alongside the Lowndean Professorship (which is now mainly held by mathematicians). The chair is currently held at the Institute of Astronomy in the University. The Plumian chair was founded in 1704 by Thomas Plume, a member of Christ's and Archdeacon of Rochester, to "erect an Observatory and to maintain a studious and learned Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy, and to buy him and his successors utensils and instruments quadrants telescopes etc."

Astronomy Universe events since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago

Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets. Relevant phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, astronomy studies everything that originates outside Earth's atmosphere. Cosmology is a branch of astronomy. It studies the Universe as a whole.

University of Cambridge university in Cambridge, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The academic standards, history, influence and wealth of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

The Lowndean chair of Astronomy and Geometry is one of the two major Professorships in Astronomy at Cambridge University, alongside the Plumian Professorship. It was founded in 1749 by Thomas Lowndes, an astronomer from Overton in Cheshire.

Trustees were appointed, and statutes drawn up by Isaac Newton, John Flamsteed and John Ellys. [1] The first Professorship was awarded in 1707 to Roger Cotes, a former student of Newton, and the stipend was increased in 1768 by Dr Robert Smith, the second Plumian Professor.

Isaac Newton Influential British physicist and mathematician

Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first published in 1687, laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.

John Flamsteed English astronomer and the first Astronomer Royal

John Flamsteed FRS was an English astronomer and the first Astronomer Royal. His main achievements were the preparation of a 3,000-star catalogue, Catalogus Britannicus, and a star atlas called Atlas Coelestis, both published posthumously. He also made the first recorded observations of Uranus, although he mistakenly catalogued it as a star, and he laid the foundation stone for the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

John Ellys (Caius) English academic

Sir John Ellys or Ellis (1634?–1716) was an English academic, Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge from 1703.

Plumian Professors

  1. Roger Cotes (1707–1716)
  2. Robert Smith (1716–1760)
  3. Anthony Shepherd (1760–1796)
  4. Samuel Vince (1796–1821)
  5. Robert Woodhouse (1822–1828)
  6. George Biddell Airy (1828–1835) [2]
  7. James Challis (1836–1882) [3]
  8. George Darwin (1883–1912) [4]
  9. Arthur Eddington (1913–1944) [5]
  10. Harold Jeffreys (1946–1958) [6]
  11. Fred Hoyle (1958–1972) [7]
  12. Martin Rees (1973–1991) [8]
  13. Richard Ellis (1993–2000) [9]
  14. Jeremiah Ostriker (2001–2003) [10]
  15. Robert Kennicutt (2006–2017) [11] [12]
  16. Christopher S. Reynolds (2017–) [13]


  1. Joseph Edleston; Sir Isaac Newton; Roger Côtes (1850). Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes. Routledge. p. lxxiv note 158. ISBN   978-0-7146-1597-4 . Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  2. Turner, H. H. (1892). "George Biddell Airy". Obituary notice. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society . 52 (4): 212–229. doi: 10.1093/mnras/52.4.212 . Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  3. Clerke, A. M.; Wilson, David B. (19 May 2011). "Challis, James (1803–1882), astronomer and physicist" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/5024 . Retrieved 11 September 2019.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. Kushner, David (28 May 2015). "Darwin, Sir George Howard (1845–1912), mathematician and geophysicist" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32718 . Retrieved 11 September 2019.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. Spencer Jones, H.; Whittaker, E. T. (1945). "Arthur Stanley Eddington". Obituary notice. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society . 105 (2): 68–79. doi: 10.1093/mnras/105.2.68 . Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  6. Cook, Alan (1990). "Sir Harold Jeffreys, 2 April 1891—18 March 1989, Elected F.R.S. 1925". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society . 36: 302–333. JSTOR   770090 . Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  7. "Professor Sir Fred Hoyle". Obituary. The Telegraph . London. 22 August 2001. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  8. Radford, Tim (2 December 2005). "Martin Rees". Profile. The Guardian . London. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  9. Aspaturian, Heidi. "Interview with Richard Ellis" (January–February 2014) [Oral History]. Oral History Project, ID: 234. Pasadena, California: Archives, California Institute of Technology. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  10. "Elections". Cambridge University Reporter (5849). 6 June 2001. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  11. "Elections, appointments, and reappointments". Cambridge University Reporter (6023). 18 January 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  12. "Professors" (PDF). Cambridge University Reporter . Special numbers. 136 (4, Officers Number – Michaelmas Term 2016): 3. 3 November 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  13. "Elections, appointments, reappointments, and grants of title". Cambridge University Reporter (6461): 447. 20 April 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2019.

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