Stargazing suite named for Annie

Annie Maunder
Annie Maunder

Ulster astronomer Annie Russell Maunder has had a new research facility named in her honour by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

The news comes after Maunder, from Strabane, was honoured by a blue plaque by Derry City and Strabane District Council last month.

She first began her work in the solar research which has gained her such renown when she was hired as a ‘human computer’ at the Royal Observatory in 1891, and spent five years calculating and observing at Greenwich.

After many years of groundbreaking work alongside her husband Edward Maunder, Annie became one of the first women to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1916.

The council, alongside the Ulster History Circle, celebrated her life and work with the installation of a blue plaque in her hometown.

And now the Royal Observatory has chosen to honour her as they embark on new work at the Observatory, which had been put on hold for the past 60 years due to environmental factors such as pollution interfering with astronomical observation.

A suite of four state-of-the-art new telescopes has now been installed at the 19th century Altazimuth Pavilion, collectively called AMAT: the Annie Maunder Astrographic Telescope.

The facility will be used both for research and to engage the public in the work ongoing at the observatory.

Marek Kukula, public astronomer at the Royal Observatory, said: “The telescopes that we’re going to be opening this summer take us back to being a ‘working observatory’ in the sense that we can do research-grade observations, and contribute once again to advancing human knowledge of the universe.”

Annie Russell Maunder was the daughter of a Strabane Presbyterian minister.

A crater of the moon has been named in honour of the Maunders and their work. Annie Maunder died aged 79, in Wandsworth London, in 1947.