Jun 222019

1 Hillside Crescent, Edinburgh, EH7 5DY; marked with a blue plaque

Photograph of 1 Hillside Crescent with the blue plaque commemorating Thomas Henderson above the door to the right

1 Hillside Crescent (with a blue plaque)

Thomas Henderson (1798-1844) became the first Astronomer Royal for Scotland in 1834. He was also appointed Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh and worked at the nearby Calton Hill Observatory until his death. His scientific achievements include the calculation of the parallax of a fixed star (the angle describing the difference in the position of a star on the night sky as measured six months apart), leading him to be the first person to measure the distance to Alpha Centauri, one of a group of nearest stars to the Sun. Unfortunately, delaying the publication of his results led to German astronomer Friedrich Bessel and Russian astronomer Friedrich Struve receiving credit for first measuring stellar parallaxes. Throughout his time in Edinburgh, he lived at 1 Hillside Crescent and is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard (very near the memorial in stop number 13 on this tour).

Black and white photograph of Thomas Henderson

Thomas Henderson

Photograph of Thomas Henderson's memorial and grave at Greyfrairs Kirkyard

Thomas Henderson’s memorial/graveside at Greyfriars Kirkyard

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons