Maunder, Edward Walter (1851–1928), and maunder minimum

  • Patrick Moore
  • John E. Oliver
Reference work entry
Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Science book series (EESS)

Maunder was the son of a Wesleyan minister, best remembered for two things: his solar research, and as the founder of the British Astronomical Association.

He attended King's College in London, and later secured a post as photographic and spectroscopic assistant at the Royal Greenwich Observatory; he initiated a long series of daily photographic sunspot records there. Eventually he was able to prepare a famous diagram, known as Maunder's ‘butterfly diagram’, linking the latitudes of sunspot groups with the state of the 11-year solar cycle. He also carried out spectroscopic work. He publicized the apparent dearth of sunspots between the years 1645 and 1715, coinciding with a very cold spell in Europe; this is now formally known as the ‘Maunder minimum’. His photographic records of sunspots were meticulous, and are still of great value today.

The Sun was by no means his only interest. He observed the planets, and in a famous experiment demonstrated that the ‘canals’ on Mars, claimed by...


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© Chapman & Hall 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Moore
  • John E. Oliver

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