York Meteorological Records

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Records of astronomical, barometric and meteorological readings taken by Smyth, largely using the weather station and observatory in York Museum Gardens. The collection contains a comprehensive set of daily and summary weather readings for York. Also included are three photograph albums consisting of cloud formation images, taken from Smyth's home in Ripon in the 1890s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Piazzi-Smyth was born in Italy in 1819, the son of William Henry Smyth (1788-1865), a naval officer and respected amateur astronomer, and Annabella Warrington (1788-1873). His godfather was Giuseppe Piazzi, a famous Sicilian astronomer.

In 1855, he married Jessie Duncan.

Piazzi-Smyth was Astronomer Royal for Scotland and was Professor of Practical Astronomy at Edinburgh University from 1845. He was a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, but was forced to resign after the methods he used in his study of the Giza pyramid were found to be mathematically inadequate. During his career, he made many expeditions, most notably to Tenerife and Egypt. As well as astronomy, he was interested in pyramids - he carried out a survey of the great Giza pyramid in 1865. He was also interested in spectroscopy (astrophysics) and meteorology, especially cloud formations.

When he retired in 1888, Piazzi-Smyth moved to Ripon. He lived in a large house called 'Clova' where he built a large gyrating spectroscope and designed a special camera, with which he took over five hundred pictures of cloud formations.

Piazzi-Smyth died in 1900 and was buried alongside his wife Jessie beneath a pyramid tombstone at the church in Sharow, near Ripon.

Conditions Governing Access

Material is available subject to the usual terms and conditions of access to Archives and Local History collections.

Other Finding Aids

More detailed finding aids for this collection can be found online by searching the Explore website ( www.exploreyork.org.uk)

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Francesca Taylor, Community Collections Assistant, April 2015.

Conditions Governing Use

Images are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

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