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Abbott, Francis

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Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers
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Born Derby, Derbyshire, England, 12 August 1799

DiedHobart, Tasmania, (Australia), 18 February 1883

Francis Abbott’s important contributions to Tasmanian and Australian astronomy and meteorology were overshadowed by his controversial claim to have observed shrinkage of the η Carinae nebula that he believed was evidence of the evolution of a stellar system like our Solar System.

Abbott, the son of John and Elizabeth Abbott, was baptized on 12 August 1799. Trained as a watchmaker in Derby, he established his business there and, in 1825, married Mary Woolley; they had seven children. In 1831 Abbott moved to Manchester where he ran a successful business manufacturing clocks, watches, and astronomical machinery until 1844 when he was found guilty of obtaining two watches under false pretences. Sentenced to penal servitude, he arrived in Hobart, Australia, in June 1845, and after 4 years obtained his ticket-of-leave and set up as a watch- and clockmaker in Hobart. With the passage of time...

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Selected References

  • Abbott, Francis (1863). “Notes on η Argus.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 24: 2–6.

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  • — (1865). “On the same Comet.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 25: 197–199.

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  • — (1878). Modern Astronomy. Hobart: printed for the author.

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  • — (1879). Bibliographical Contribution to the Resumé on Modern Astronomy. Hobart: printed for the author.

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  • — (n.d.). Sidereal Systems of Modern Astronomy. Hobart: printed for the author.

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  • Anon. (20 February 1883). “The late Mr. Abbott.” Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania).

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  • Orchiston, Wayne (1992). “The Contribution of Francis Abbott to Tasmanian and Australian Astronomy.” Vistas in Astronomy 35: 315–344.

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  • — (1997). “The Role of the Amateur in Popularizing Astronomy: An Australian Case Study.” Australian Journal of Astronomy 7: 33–66.

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  • — (1997). “The ‘Tyranny of Distance’ and Antipodean Cometary Astronomy.” Australian Journal of Astronomy 7: 115–126.

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  • Proctor, Richard A. (1871). “Note on Mr. Abbott’s imagined Discovery of great Changes in the Argo Nebula.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 32: 62.

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  • Rimmer, Gordon (1969). “Abbott, Francis (1799–1883).” In Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 3, 1851–1890, pp. 2–3. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

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  • Savours, Ann and Anita McConnell (1982). “The History of the Rossbank Observatory, Tasmania.” Annals of Science 39: 527–564.

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Correspondence to Wayne Orchiston .

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Orchiston, W. (2014). Abbott, Francis. In: Hockey, T., et al. Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-9917-7_9002

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