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John Birmingham Milltown County Galway
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John Birmingham - Astronomer  ~   Milltown
         
John Birmingham (1816-1884)
John Birmingham, amateur geologist and astronomer was born, lived and died in Millbrook, County Galway. He was educated at St. Jarlath's College in Tuam. He is reputed to have spent 6 or 7 years studying in Berlin, travelling widely in Europe and becoming proficient in several languages. He is noted for his discovery in 1866 of the recurrent nova T Coronae Borealis.
 
He grew up in a two-storey house on the 250-acre Millbrook estate in Milltown. He became known as a kindly landlord but also as a scholar and intellectual. At Millbrook, he built what the Tuam Herald called a large wooden house with a sliding roof. Here he mounted his telescope which cost £120 and was one of the most powerful in Ireland or Britain.
 
Lunar Crater Birmingham named after John Birmingham of Milltown County Galway Birmingham Lunar Crater is located near the northern limb of the Moon, and so is viewed from the Earth at a low angle. All that survives of the original formation is an irregular perimeter of low, indented ridges surrounding the lava-resurfaced interior. The inner floor is marked by several tiny craterlets, and the surface is unusually rough for a walled plain. The low angle of illumination allows fine details of this boulder-strewn field to be seen more clearly. The Birmingham formation lies just to the north of the Mare Frigoris, and to the east of the W. Bond walled-plain.
 
With the aid of a 4.5-inch Cooke refractor, he made a special study of red stars undertaking a revision and extension of Schjellerup's Catalogue of Red Stars. In all, he included 658 such objects. This work was presented to the Royal Irish Academy in 1876 and its merit was acknowledged by the award of the Cunningham Medal. In 1881 he discovered a deep red star in Cygnus, which is called after him. He published articles on meteor showers, on the transit of Venus and on sunspots and he corresponded with the leading astronomers of the day. A lunar crater is named after him.
 
John Birmingham was an only child and died a bachelor, his house was left to ruin and all that remains of his possessions is his telescope.
 
In his lifetime however he was well known and well respected, Robert Ball made reference to Birmingham's Observatory in one of his books and John, like William E Wilson had numerous contacts at Dunsink Observatory.
A stone sculpture in memory of John Birminghan at Milltrown County Galway

John Birmingham was not only an astronomer, but a geologist, a linguist and poet as well. In 1866, he wrote to a leading British astronomer about his discovery of a new star. This star was subsequently named ‘The Birmingham Star’. In the same year, he wrote an essay about the disappearance of a crater on the surface of the moon and the subsequent appearance of a vast luminous cloud in its place.
In its review of the essay, the Irish Times commented: “We know of no paper which contains an equal amount of learning in so brief a space, in so charming a style and manner, and stamps him as a man of learning, eloquence and refined taste combined with genius.” In 1883, the Royal Irish Academy presented Birmingham with a gold medal for his valuable contributions to the society’s transactions. He never married but he was reputed to have fathered a daughter.
He died in 1884.

   

 

 
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