Exhibition to pay homage to Aberdeen’s most famous astronomer

16 January 2014

The first-ever exhibition in Scotland to commemorate the life and work of Sir David Gill, Aberdeen's most famous astronomer, will open to the public on Saturday 18 January at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Shiprow.

Born the eldest son of an Aberdeen watchmaker, David Gill (1843-1914) grew up to become one of the foremost practical astronomers of his age. This exhibition will explore the story of this local lad and how his passion for science would take him around the world.

The exhibition which marks the centenary of his death brings together important artefacts from Gill's life including loans from the University of Aberdeen, Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Observatory Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland. This will be the first time this material has been shown together on public display.

From beginnings at King's College, Aberdeen and working to establish an observatory at Dunecht, David Gill was later appointed Her Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape Observatory, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1867, President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1907 and the Royal Astronomical Society in 1909. He was knighted in 1900.

Dr John Reid, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and former Cruickshank Lecturer in Astronomy at the University of Aberdeen, researched and curated the exhibition, said: "In his time David Gill was known the world over for his outstanding contributions to astronomy in the areas of observation, astrophotography, instrument design and the organisation of international research. He also has a fine reputation in national surveying. He was born and brought up in Aberdeen and we should be proud of the credit he brought to the city."

Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums curator Jenny Brown says "This is a unique chance for the North East of Scotland to recognise and celebrate the achievements of Sir David Gill and to learn about the science behind his work. We hope Gill's story will inspire young and old alike to explore the stars."

The exhibition runs until Saturday 29 March 2014.

Aberdeen Maritime Museum in partnership with the University of Aberdeen will host a Discovery Talk series which will see speakers take inspiration from the commemorative exhibition. Admission is free but booking is highly recommended (available via www.aagm.co.uk). All events begin at 7pm on the following dates:


Discovery Gallery, Aberdeen Maritime Museum

Thursday 30 January
Skies over Aberdeen
Torcuill Torrance, Aberdeen Astronomical Association

Thursday 13 February
Asteroids, Armageddon and Aberdeen
Prof John Parnell, University of Aberdeen

Thursday 27 February
Aberdeen's most famous Astronomer
Dr John S Reid, University of Aberdeen

Thursday 20 March
A Brief History of Timelines
Dr Ben Marsden, University of Aberdeen


Lunchtime talks

Free lunchtime talks at the museum will also offer listeners an opportunity to find out more about the world of astronomy. Advance booking is essential for these talks by telephoning the museum on (01224) 337714.

Wednesday 29 January
David Gill - Aberdeen's Most Famous Astronomer
Dr John S Reid, FRAS

Wednesday 19 February
Astronomy Now - What David Gill Didn't Know
Dr John S Reid FRAS

Wednesday 12 March
Isobel Gill and Six Months in Ascension
Jenny Brown, Curator