Public Meeting - Fiammetta Wilson - June 2020

Date(s) - 17/06/2020
7:30pm - 9:30pm

Henry Dixon Hall

Fiammetta Wilson

Fiammetta Wilson was one of the first four women to be awarded fellowship of The Royal Astronomical Society – a milestone in the acceptance of women in science.

Her name has largely been forgotten but this talk will shine a spotlight on the person who opened the door to women in professional astronomy.

The talk will cover the following:

  • Fiammetta’s birth and family background
  • Early life and musical performances
  • Introduction to astronomy
  • Election to the British Astronomical Association
  • Observing career and the BAA Meteor Section
  • Election as one of the first female Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • The other astronomical societies she joined
  • The Pickering Astronomical Fellowship for Women


About The Speaker

Our speaker this month is Bill Barton.

Bill Barton left Secondary School in 1979 with ‘O’ level qualifications. After a four year apprenticeship in Signal Engineering with British Rail he held multiple signal engineering positions in the until early retirement from Networkrail in 2014.

He joined the British Astronomical Association in 1984 and took part in their and contributed to their Solar Section between 1990 and 2000, also sharing his observations with the Solar Division of the American Association of Variable Star Observers. Other favourites are observing eclipses, transits and planetary conjunctions.

In 2002 he was a founder member of Society for the History of Astronomy and was also elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. The next year saw him licensed to operate the Orwell Park refractor (IAU observatory no. 582) on behalf of the Orwell Astronomical Society (Ipswich), which he had joined several years earlier.

In 2017 and 2019 he received the SHA Roger Jones award for contributions to their ‘County Survey of Astronomers’.

An early foray into astronomical history was a biography Charles May, and more recent work has been on Alice Grace Cook and Fiammetta Wilson (the subject of this evenings talk).

Bill has a particular soft spot for classic refracting telescopes such as the Swift model 831 and Carl Zeiss Telementor as well as Questar Maksutov Cassegrains. He owns some astronomical antiques, usually eyepiece micrometers, planispheres or similar teaching aids. He has more old astronomy books than he likes to admit to.

In January 2020 he was appointed as the Deputy Director of the British Astronomical Association Historical Section.


Anyone is welcome – beginner or expert – and there is no need to pre-book. A small charge applies to help us cover costs (typically £3 for non-members; £2 for members; U16s free). Doors open at 7.30pm with the talk starting at 8.00pm.

Note that if you are using satnav system, this postcode may not take you directly to the hall – please check this Google Maps link if you aren’t sure: