Parsons, William

Rosse, William Parsons, 3d earl of

Rosse, William Parsons, 3d earl of (rôs), 1800–1867, British astronomer and constructor of telescopes. He served as member of Parliament for King's Co., Ireland (1821–34), Irish representative peer (from 1845), president of the British Association (1843), president of the Royal Society (1849–54), and chancellor of the Univ. of Dublin (from 1862). His greatest interest was the construction of specula of large size for reflecting telescopes; he overcame defects caused by warping and cracking of surfaces in the cooling process and counteracted to a considerable degree other defects. His great reflecting telescope, with a speculum 6 ft (1.8 m) in diameter, the largest up to that time, was mounted in his park at Parsonstown (now Birr), Ireland, in 1845. For many years it was chiefly devoted to the study of the nebulae. Some nebulae that had eluded Sir William Herschel were resolved into groups of stars, many binary and triple stars were discovered, and the moon was more completely described.
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Parsons, William


(Third Earl of Rosse). Born June 17, 1800, in York; died Oct. 31, 1867, in Monkstown, Ireland. Irish astronomer. Member (1831) and president (1849–54) of the London Royal Society.

In 1845, Parsons constructed a reflecting telescope with a 182-cm mirror, which he set up at Birr Castle in Ireland. Using this telescope, he established the spiral structure of many extragalactic nebulae. Parsons was a member of the Royal Astronomical Society (1824) and a foreign member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1852).


”An Account of Experiments on the Reflecting Telescope.” Philosophical Transactions, 1840, part 1, pp. 503–28.
”On the Construction of Specula of Sixfect Aperture and a Selection From the Observations of Nebulae With Them.” Philosophical Transactions, 1861, vol. 151, part 1, pp. 681–745.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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