ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse (1800-1867), British-Irish astronomer. Rosse was born in York and educated at Trinity College Dublin and Magdalen College Oxford. He served as an MP and in 1841 succeeded to the title Earl of Rosse. At the family estate at Birr Castle near Parsonstown in Ireland he proceeded to construct ever-larger telescopes, grinding the mirrors by hand. The greatest was the ‘Leviathan of Parsonstown’, with a 72-inch mirror it was the largest telescope in the world and remained so for the rest of the century. Rosse was the first to observe the spiral structure of a galaxy (M51) and produced detailed drawings of the Crab Nebula (M1).
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