William John Macdonnell (1842-1910), amateur astronomer, sitting in front of his observatory in his home at Mosman, New South Wales, 23 January 1910.

William John Macdonnell was one of the leading amateur astronomers in New South Wales in the late 19th and early 20th century. In 1907 he acquired a 4 ¾ inch (12.1 cm) refractor telescope by James Parkes & Son, Birmingham, just visible here.

Description of Content

Man standing at the entrance of a backyard observatory.

Physical Description

Digital image copied from the original.


Photographs of amateur astronomers and their observatories in Australia in the 19th and early 20th centuries are rare. This photograph and related images provide an insight into the role of amateur astronomers in the development of astronomy in Australia. William John Macdonnell was, along with John Tebbutt, the most significant amateur astronomer in New South Wales in the second half of the 19th century.

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