Thomas Romney Robinson

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Thomas Romney Robinson

Robinson early in life
Born(1792-04-23)23 April 1792
Died28 February 1882(1882-02-28) (aged 89)
Awards Royal Medal (1862)
A hemispherical cup anemometer of the type invented in 1846 by John Thomas Romney Robinson Wea00920.jpg
A hemispherical cup anemometer of the type invented in 1846 by John Thomas Romney Robinson

Rev John Thomas Romney Robinson FRAS [1] FRS FRSE DD DCL LLD (23 April 1792 – 28 February 1882), usually referred to as Thomas Romney Robinson, was a 19th-century astronomer and physicist. He was the longtime director of the Armagh Astronomical Observatory, one of the chief astronomical observatories in the UK of its time.

Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society fellowship of a learned society

Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS) is the style granted to members of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) on successful application.

Doctor of Divinity advanced or honorary academic degree in divinity

Doctor of Divinity is an advanced or honorary academic degree in divinity.

Astronomer Scientist who studies celestial bodies

An astronomer is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific question or field outside the scope of Earth. They observe astronomical objects such as stars, planets, moons, comets, and galaxies – in either observational or theoretical astronomy. Examples of topics or fields astronomers study include planetary science, solar astronomy, the origin or evolution of stars, or the formation of galaxies. Related but distinct subjects like physical cosmology, which studies the Universe as a whole.


He is remembered as inventor of the 4-cup anemometer.

Anemometer meteorological instrumentation used for measuring the speed of wind

An anemometer is a device used for measuring wind speed, and is also a common weather station instrument. The term is derived from the Greek word anemos, which means wind, and is used to describe any wind speed instrument used in meteorology. The first known description of an anemometer was given by Leon Battista Alberti in 1450.


Robinson was born at St Anne's in Dublin, the son of the English portrait painter Thomas Robinson (d.1810) and his wife, Ruth Buck (d.1826). [2] He was educated at Belfast Academy then studied Divinity at Trinity College Dublin, where he was elected a Scholar in 1808, graduating BA in 1810 and obtaining a fellowship in 1814, at the age of 22. He was for some years a deputy professor of natural philosophy (physics) at Trinity.

Dublin capital and largest city in Ireland

Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland. It is on the east coast of Ireland, in the province of Leinster, at the mouth of the River Liffey, and is bordered on the south by the Wicklow Mountains. It has an urban area population of 1,173,179, while the population of the Dublin Region, as of 2016, was 1,347,359, and the population of the Greater Dublin Area was 1,904,806.

Trinity College Dublin Sole college of the University of Dublin, founded 1592

Trinity College, officially the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, is the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin, a research university located in Dublin, Ireland. The college was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother" of a new university, modelled after the collegiate universities of Oxford and Cambridge, but unlike these other ancient universities, only one college was ever established; as such, the designations "Trinity College" and "University of Dublin" are usually synonymous for practical purposes. The college is legally incorporated by "the Provost, Fellows, Foundation Scholars and other members of the Board" as outlined by its founding charter. It is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland, as well as Ireland's oldest surviving university. Trinity College is widely considered the most prestigious university in Ireland and amongst the most elite in Europe, principally due to its extensive history and unique relationship with both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. In accordance with the formula of ad eundem gradum, a form of recognition that exists among the three universities, a graduate of Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin can be conferred with the equivalent degree at either of the other two universities without further examination. Trinity College, Dublin is a sister college to St John's College, Cambridge and Oriel College, Oxford.

Natural philosophy ancient philosophical study of nature and physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural science

Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature was the philosophical study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural science.

Having been also ordained as an Anglican priest while at Trinity, he obtained the church livings of the Anglican Church at Enniskillen and at Carrickmacross in 1824.

Enniskillen town and civil parish in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

Enniskillen is a town and civil parish in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is located almost exactly in the centre of the county, between the Upper and Lower sections of Lough Erne. It had a population of 13,823 in the 2011 census. It was the seat of local government for the former Fermanagh District Council, and is the county town of Fermanagh as well as its largest town.

Carrickmacross Town in Ulster, Ireland

Carrickmacross is a town in County Monaghan, Ireland. The town and environs had a population of 5,032 according to the 2016 census, making it the second largest town in the county. The town won the European Entente Florale Silver Medal Award. It is a market town which developed around a Castle built by the Earl of Essex in 1630. The Convent of St Louis stands on the original castle site. The local Gaelic football and hurling club is Carrickmacross Emmets.The local soccer team is Carrick Rovers

Armagh Observatory, 1883 Armagh Observatory 1883b-s.jpg
Armagh Observatory, 1883
Robinson in the 1850s by James Simonton John Thomas Romney Robinson by James Simonton c1850s.png
Robinson in the 1850s by James Simonton

In 1823, now aged 30, he additionally gained the appointment of astronomer at the Armagh observatory. [3] From then on he always resided at the Armagh observatory, engaged in researches connected with astronomy and physics, until his death in 1882.

During the 1840s and 1850s Robinson was a frequent visitor to the world's most powerful telescope of that era, the so-called Leviathan of Parsonstown telescope, which had been built by Robinson's friend and colleague William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse. Robinson was active with Parsons in interpreting the higher-resolution views of the night sky produced by Parsons' telescope, particularly with regard to the galaxies and nebulae and he published leading-edge research reports on the question. [4] Back at his own observatory in Armagh, Robinson compiled a large catalogue of stars and wrote many related reports. In 1862 he was awarded a Royal Medal "for the Armagh catalogue of 5345 stars, deduced from observations made at the Armagh Observatory, from the years 1820 up to 1854; for his papers on the construction of astronomical instruments in the memoirs of the Astronomical Society, and his paper on electromagnets in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy".

Leviathan of Parsonstown telescope

Leviathan of Parsonstown, or Rosse six-foot telescope, is a historic reflecting telescope of 72 in (1.8 m) aperture, which was the largest telescope in the world from 1845 until the construction of the 100-inch (2.5 m) Hooker Telescope in California in 1917. The Rosse six-foot telescope was built by William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse on his estate, Birr Castle, at Parsonstown.

William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse Anglo-Irish astronomer

William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse HFRSE, was an Anglo-Irish astronomer who had several telescopes built. His 72-inch telescope, built in 1845 and colloquially known as the "Leviathan of Parsonstown", was the world's largest telescope, in terms of aperture size, until the early 20th century. From April 1807 until February 1841, he was styled as Baron Oxmantown.

Royal Medal silver-gilt medal, of which three are awarded each year by the Royal Society

The Royal Medal, also known as The King's Medal and The Queen's Medal, is a silver-gilt medal, of which three are awarded each year by the Royal Society, two for "the most important contributions to the advancement of natural knowledge" and one for "distinguished contributions in the applied sciences", done within the Commonwealth of Nations. The award was created by George IV and awarded first during 1826. Initially there were two medals awarded, both for the most important discovery within the year previous, a time period which was lengthened to five years and then shortened to three. The format was endorsed by William IV and Victoria, who had the conditions changed during 1837 so that mathematics was a subject for which a Royal Medal could be awarded, albeit only every third year. The conditions were changed again during 1850 so that:

... the Royal Medals in each year should be awarded for the two most important contributions to the advancement of Natural Knowledge, published originally in Her Majesty's dominions within a period of not more than ten years and not less than one year of the date of the award, subject, of course, to Her Majesty's approval. ... in the award of the Royal Medals, one should be given in each of the two great divisions of Natural Knowledge.

Robinson is also of note as the inventor of a device for measuring the speed of the wind, the Robinson cup-anemometer (1846).

He was president of the Royal Irish Academy from 1851 to 1856, and was a long-time active organiser in the British Association for the Advancement of Science. [5]

Robinson was a friend of Charles Babbage, who said was "indebted" for having reminded him about the first time he came up with the idea of the calculating machine. [6]


He married twice: first Eliza Isabelle Rambaut (d.1839) and secondly Lucy Jane Edgeworth (1806–1897), the lifelong disabled [7] daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth. His daughter married the physicist George Gabriel Stokes. Stokes frequently visited Robinson in Armagh in Robinson's later years. [8]


On the Moon, Robinson (crater) is named in his honour.



Related Research Articles

Messier 100 galaxy

Messier 100 is an example of a grand design intermediate spiral galaxy located within the southern part of constellation Coma Berenices. It is one of the brightest and largest galaxies in the Virgo Cluster, located approximately 55 million light-years distant from Earth and has a diameter of 107,000 light years, roughly 60% the size of the Milky Way. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain on March 15, 1781 and was subsequently entered in Messier's catalogue of nebulae and star clusters after Charles Messier made observations of his own on April 13, 1781. The galaxy was one of the first spiral galaxies to be discovered, and was listed as one of fourteen spiral nebulae by Lord William Parsons of Rosse in 1850. Two satellite galaxies named NGC 4323--connected with M100 by a bridge of luminous matter--and NGC 4328 surround M100.

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Armagh Observatory observatory

Armagh Observatory is an astronomical research institute in Armagh, Northern Ireland. Around 25 astronomers are based at the observatory, studying stellar astrophysics, the Sun, Solar System astronomy and Earth's climate.

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James Dunlop FRSE was a Scottish astronomer, noted for his work in Australia. He served as astronomer's assistant who was hired by Sir Thomas Brisbane to work at his private observatory, once located at Paramatta, New South Wales, about 23 kilometres (14 mi) west of Sydney during the 1820s and 1830s. Dunlop was mostly a visual observer, doing stellar astrometry work for Brisbane, and after its completion, then independently discovered and catalogued many new telescopic southern double stars and deep-sky objects. He later became the Superintendent of Paramatta Observatory when it was finally sold to the New South Wales Government.

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Georgetown University Astronomical Observatory historical observatory on the campus of Georgetown University

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Great Melbourne Telescope

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John Drew, was a self-educated English astronomer.

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  1. "1883MNRAS..43..181. Page 181". Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  2. Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN   0 902 198 84 X.
  3. "Directors of Armagh Observatory"
  4. Book Observing and Cataloguing Nebulae and Star Clusters, by Wolfgang Steinicke, year 2010, pages 106–117.
  5. "Thomas Romney Robinson (1793–1882)". Ask about Ireland. Retrieved 7 August 2013. Robinson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1856: "Library archive". Royal Society . Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  6. Scientific types (1968). James Gerald Crowther. Barrie & Rockliff, p. 274
  7. Jean E. Friedman, Glenna R. Schroeder-Lei (2001). Ways of Wisdom: Moral Education in the Early National Period. University of Georgia Press. p. 247
  8. Details of Stokes's summer vacations are in the biography of Stokes by Stoke's daughter at