Last Updated : 31 Aug 2009


Pre-1900 People


Jeremiah Horrox Observes the transit of Venus across the Sun in 'The Father of English Astronomy' by Eyre Crowe [Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool]Born at Toxteth in 1618, he was one of Liverpools greatest sons and a pupil of Richard Mather. At 14 he gained a place at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

He was interested in the secrets of the universe and the motions of the heavenly bodies. After graduating he returned home to Toxteth where he took every opportunity to measure the positions of the moon and planets against the stars. What he discovered was that they did not fit the positions given in the tables of Longomonitus, based on the "Almagest" and the "Great Work" of Claudius Ptolemaus which had remained unchallenged as the bible of astromoners for thirteen centuries. When introduced to the work of Kepler, Horrox was able to fit his observations to an astronomical theory and became an admirer of the then controversial and radical ideas of Copernicus and Kepler.

Horrox died young in 1641 but he was later acknowledged by fellow astromoners including Edmund Halley and Herschel, as the father of English astronomers . When Isaac Newton first published his "Principia" in 1686 he acknowledged his debt to Horrox.