Summary

Brief biography of Amateur Astronomer William John Macdonnell.

William John Macdonnell was one of the leading amateur astronomers in New South Wales in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1882 he became a bank manager at Port Macquarie, and erected an observatory there, with a 6 inch refractor by Grubb, Dublin. In the 1890s depression he resigned from the bank and was forced to sell his astronomical equipment. He restarted in Sydney as a secretary to public companies, and re-established his observatory in Mosman. In 1907 he acquired a 4 ¾ inch (12.1 cm) refractor telescope by James Parkes & Son, Birmingham.

Macdonnell collaborated with H.C. Russell, Director of Sydney Observatory, participating the 1874 Transit of Venus observations in Eden and on the 1882 expedition at Port Macquarie. He was active member of the New South Wales branch of the British Astronomical Association, including President for two years. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1873.

Obituary (1911). Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 71: pp. 270-271

Orchiston, Wayne (2001). ‘William John Macdonnell and the Development of Astronomy in New South Wales’, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 111 (1): 13-25

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