John Jackson (astronomer)

John Jackson (11 Februar 1887 – 9 December 1958) wis a Scots astronomer.

Born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, he wis educatit at Paisley Grammar School, studyin a range o subjects includin the sciences, French an German, but no Laitin or Greek, whit war compulsitor gin he ettelt tae dae the entry examinies for varsity.

Early life an EducationEedit

Haein bleckit at science, in parteecular chemistrie, he decidid tae ettle for the entry exam for Glesga Varsity, ill-will o no studyin the classics. In the simmer o 1903 he studied haurd tae impruive his knawledge o Laitin, whit see'd him pass the varsity entry exam weel eneuch tae be awairded a £25 bursary.

Gowd medal awairded tae John Jackson bi the Ryal Astronomical Societie

Graduatin in 1907 wi a first cless honours Master o Airts (Maister o airts) degree in mathematics an naitural philosophy, he wis than awairded a fellaeship o £100 a year for faurer study. The follaein year he unnerteuk a Batchelor o Science (Batchelor o science) degree, again at Glesgae Varsity, wi speicial distinction in mathematics, naitural philosophy, astronomy an chemistrie, winnin medals in maist o thir subjects.

Astronomy wis studied unner the tutory o Ludwig Becker. Jackson gained a thorou grundin in the fundamental elements o the subject tae the stent required for a fou unnerstaunin o astronomy. He leart hou tae uise aw kynds o astronomical instruments, hou tae correct observations an hou tae applee mathematical an arithmetical analysis tae redd up astronomical problems. Becker’s fain teachin weys maun hiv haed a profoond influence on Jackson syne he than chyse tae follae oot a career in astronomy.

As thare seemed tae be nae possibeelity o obtaeenin an appointment in astronomy at Glesgae, Jackson decidit tae gae til Varsity o Cambridge, an, efter takin the entry exam, wis awairded a major bursary tae study at Trinity College as an ordinar unnergraduate in 1909. He awready kent as much spherical an deenamic astronomy as wis than teacht at Cambridge, but wis introduced tae new subjects includin solar pheesics an astropheesics, while faurerin his knawledge o pure an appleed mathematics. In his time at Cambridge, he wis awairded faurer medals for his wirk in astronomy.

Wirkin LifeEedit

In 1914, a vacancy as Chief Assistant arose at the Royal Observatory Greenwich an Jackson wis selectit bi the Astronomer Ryal, Sir Frank Watson Dyson. In 1917 Jackson wis granted a commission in the Ryal Engineers. He wis sent tae Fraunce tae wark on soond rangin, but in the ware o 1918, efter the German airmies brakithrou an forder, he wis sent taw the Breetish Fowert Airmy as a trigonometrical vizzie officer, plottin artillery trajectories. His throu-come o observin an his knawledge o spherical astronomy meant he wis suitably qualified tae cairy oot this wirk, e'en howffin tae observations o the sun tae help determine ranges an poseetions.

Jackson hame-come frae Fraunce in 1919 an resumed his duties at Greenwich. The first extensive task he unnerteuk wis tae redd himsel for publication o aw o the observations he haed made o dooble starns, wirkin on this wi Herbert Hall Turner, the Savilian Professor o Astronomy at Varsity o Oxford. Jackson wirked on calculatin the rotation o the planet Neptune an aw, revisin the acceptit tent o a 7 oor rotation tae 19 oor wi a possible mistak o 20 percent, no ower faur frae the true feegur o 15.8 oor.

In 1933 a vacancy arose for the poseetion o His Majesty’s Astronomer at Cape ObservatoryCape TounSooth Africae. Jackson wis appointit tae the post.

Jackson’s first task on income at the Cape wis taw wirk on the lairge collection o phototae plates taen bi David Gill o the sky abuinn Cape Toun, in order tae derive the richt muivements o thir starns. He published thir in twa volumes, whit kivert the muivements an spectral teeps o ower 41,000 starn.

Gill medal awairded tae John Jackson bi the atronomical societie o Sooth Africae.

Maist o Jackson’s time at the Cape wis taen up wi the determination o stellar parallax, a programme that haed been stairtit bi his predecessor, Harold Spencer Jones. Jackson wrocht on this for a nummer o year, takin as mony as 1000 photae plates o the sky in a year frae whit tae wirk frae. Jackson obtaeen't results for 1600 starn, published in three volume o the Cape Annals. As a result o his wirk, the knawledge o stellar parallaxes for the soothern hemisphere became better kent nor thon o the northren.

Throu-oot his career, Jackson teuk pairt in fower expedeetion tae observe a hale eclipse o the Sun. The Greenwich observatory haed planned tae send an expedeetion tae Sooth Africae tae observe the eclipse o 1 October 1940, but the oot-brak o the Seicont Warld War made it impossible tae send observers. Gear wis sent insteid an Jackson teuk chairge o an expedeetion frae the Cape Observatory tae the observin site, whaur the hale eclipse wis successfully viewed.


Jackson reteert frae the Cape Observatory in 1950, retourin tae Ingland, whaur he sattled wi his wife, Mary Beatrice Marshall, in Ewell, Surrey. In 1952 John Jackson wis awairded The Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society for his wirk on stellar parallaxes an his contreebutions tae the general problems o starn poseetions an richt muivements. Faurer accolades awairded include the Gill Medal o the Astronomical Society o South Africae in 1958 an he wis made a CBE in 1950. He haudit the posts o preses o the Ryal Society o Sooth Africae in 1949 an wis preses o the Ryal Astronomical Society frae 1953 tae 1955. Efter reteerin, he didna lea his passion for astronomy ahind, makin a trip tae Stromatad in Swaden tae observe the hale eclipse o 30 June 1954. Mony o Jackson’s medals are on display at Coats Observatory, Paisley.

Ill halth plagued his later years an on 9 December 1958 John Jackson deed efter a brief illness.


  • John Jackson page at Epsom an Ewell History wab steid [1]
  • John Jackson obituary, Glasgae Herald (Inglis)[2]