Date: 03 Sep 2014
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Ball, Robert Stawell

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BornDublin, Ireland, 1 July 1840

DiedCambridge, England, 25 November 1913

Ball, Robert Stawell. Courtesy of History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries

Robert Ball was a noted lecturer and popularizer of astronomy. He was the eldest son of Irish naturalist Dr. Robert Ball. His preliminary education was completed at Abbot’s Grange, Chester, whereupon he entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1857. As an undergraduate, Ball was a gold medalist in mathematics, in the experimental and natural sciences, and was awarded a University Scholarship in 1860. He graduated in 1865.

Ball served as assistant astronomer (1865–1867) to William Parsons, the Earl of Rosse, at Parsonstown, Ireland, where he observed and measured faint nebulae with the 6-ft. reflector at Birr Castle. In 1867, Ball was appointed professor of applied mechanics at the newly opened Royal College of Science at Dublin and wrote a text on experimental mechanics. He married Frances Elizabeth Steele in 1868; the coupl ...