28th October 2016 Dr David Gavine "The Herschels-A Family of Astronomers"
"Adventures in Lecture Land" a note by T Hayes
I had the pleasure to attend a meal with Dr. Gavine before the meeting with some members of the Committee and we were treated to some recollections of his lectures and other humerous tales. Stories such as the time he was lecturing in a fair sized hall to six and a half people - "The half only came in halfway through, and the Janney (Janitor) started stacking chairs and sweeping the hall before I finished my lecture!"
He had us in stitches as he related his sad tale of his time as a teacher in a school that had graffitti on the walls before graffitti was invented, and on the day he met the head teacher and staff for the first time. Such was the standard of the teachers he wouldn't be surprised if the teachers were the graffitti witers as their spelling was atrocious and in the same style as that on the walls. When asked why he stayed for four years he replied, "I couldn't escape!"
Then there was the time he was accompanying a rather inportant person to an historic site and they were walking on a green and "A woman opened a window of a tenement and screamed at us to get off the grass. It was the only time a 'wiffey' has ever chased off the Astronomer Royal!"
In the meeting Dr. Gavine was introduced as 'without whom Dundee Astronomical Society would not exist'. Dr. Gavine looked at the group, and promptly apologised. Our Chairman's told us that the nights talk was about a very famous family at which Dr Gavine looked round in shock and surprise, exclaiming "Who?"
Such is the humour of Dr Gavine, if you were not able to attend I am sure you will enjoy the recording of the talk which has a link to download or just listen to online at the bottom of this page.
Dr. Gavine regaled us with a history of the Herschel family tree, "There was a whole gang of them", describing the work of William Herschel an oboeist and telescope maker, and his sister Caroline who became his Assistant and caretaker. Both of them made great scientific, yet sometimes erroneous, discoveries in the field of astronomy.
William, born Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel of Hanover, discovered Uranus purely by accident. (Listen to the recording to discover more).
Picture by Nathan "Skully" Brookes
Picture by Nathan "Skully" Brookes
Several of the Herschel gang became famous in their filelds, one specialising in the field of finger printing, another, excelled in the field of photography and other disciplines. Dr. Gavine toughed on more of the family and their work and closed with a few recollections, one in particular when he met Miss Caroline Herschel, the last living member of the family to bear the Herschel name.
William Herschel's house in Bath became the Herschel Museum of Astronomy and contains many artifacts from the entire spectum of the Herschel families work in the field of Astronomy, and is well worth the visit.
Dr. David Gavine's talk
Following a brief Q & A the meeting took a break for refreshments after which our Director of Observations took us through his sky notes for November, describing what we might find in the night skies for the next month. Finally Tony Hayes Showed a slideshow/film he has compiled entitled "A Brief Tour of Our Amazing Sun"
Thanks to Dr. Gavine, Jim and Tony for a most entertaining evening, and Nathan Brookes for the pictures
Dr. Gavine and colleagues study a replica of part of a Herschel telescope. (Or was it an original part?)