Charles J. Joley,

MRIA,FRS.

(1864 - 1906)

Tullamore Astronomer

Dunsink By Sean Robbins, T.A.S. Dunsink

Tullamore Astronomical Society is now 11 years old, having being founded in 1986. However, while the society may be of recent origin, the history and interest in Astronomy in Offaly goes back a long way. The Supernova of 1054 AD, whose remnant we now know as the Crab Nebula (M1 or NGC1952), is recorded in the Annals as having been observed from Durrow just north of Tullamore. Apart from the Chinese and Japanese records this observation is one of the few Western and Near Eastern accounts of the event.
Closer to the present time in the 19th century the 3rd Earl of Ross constructed the "Leviathan of Parsonstown. (It was also the 3rd Earl who first called M1 "The Crab nebula").
This magnificent telescope has recently been restored and is well worth a visit.

Not so well known is one Charles Joly. He was born at St.Catherine's Rectory, Hop Hill, Tullamore on June 27th 1864. Educated at Galway Grammar School and later at Trinity College Dublin, where he took a fellowship in 1894.
Particularly fascinated with Astronomy in 1897 he was appointed Astronomer Royal for Ireland and he took up his new position at Dunsink Observatory.

Amongst his achievements he edit Rowan Hamilton's Quaternions, (1899 - 1901) and in 1905 he published the Manual of Quaternions.
In 1900 he was a member of the major expedition which went to Spain for the Total Eclipse of that year.

Unfortunately in 1906 at the relatively young age of 42, he died at his Dunsink residence.

Today with the growth of the new society in Charles Joly's hometown we are witnessing the reawakening of interest in astronomy and the emergence of a new generation of astronomers in the midlands of Ireland.

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