Western University Physics adn AstronomyWestern Science

H. R. Kingston telescope comes home to Western

Kingston telescope and plaque being held by R.A.S.C. London Centre president Rick Saunders

A piece of Canadian, and Western University's history, has returned to London.

It is a telescope that has had several homes over the years, and has crossed the continent more than once.

"Several years ago John Kingston of Seattle, Dr. Kingston's grandson, talked to us about the telescope", states Rick Saunders, president of the London Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (R.A.S.C.), and is shown above in photo.

Rick was not only instrumental in bringing the telescope to London, but in production of the commemorative plaque as well.

The story begins in Seattle, Washington, as Rick continues, "The idea of moving it here languished until I took over as president and Bob Duff approached me with the story. After a few emails back and forth my brother Tony, on his way through Seattle, was able to pick up the tube and carry it across the border to Vancouver. It was then packed up properly by a kind member of Vancouver centre of the RASC and shipped via truck to London."

But the story takes a twist.  The telescope's initial destination was Eldon House, where it was put on display.

Peter Jedicke, former president of the London Centre R.A.S.C. as well as former national president, began discussions with Chair of The Department of Physics and Astronomy Shantanu Basu. It was decided that a more appropriate permanent home for the instrument would be at Western University, where Dr. Kingston began the astronomy program, and helped found the London Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Thus, the telescope which H.R. Kingston brought from Manitoba in 1921, has come home to London, and Western.

It presently sits in the board room of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and plans are being made for it's permanent home within the Department.

Wording of the Commemorative Plaque

"Dr. Harold R. Kingston's
personal telescope has been
donated to the London Centre, R.A.S.C.,
by John M. Kingston and
Molly K. Hoffman of Seattle, Washington,
his grandchildren.
This gift is dedicated
in loving memory of
our grandfather
and also our father,
Dr. J. Maurice Kingston,
of Seattle, Washington."

Brief History by Prof. Donald R. Moorcroft

"In 1921 Harold Reynolds Kingston [1921-47] (Queens, MA, 1908; Chicago, PhD, 1914) arrived from the University of Manitoba and took over as Head of the Department of Mathematics. He took a great, although largely amateur, interest in astronomy, and following his arrival at Western the name of the department was changed to the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy, a name which remained until 1958-59.

The astronomy offerings were altered and expanded; in 1923-24 the calendar lists honors courses in Descriptive Astronomy and Mathematical Astronomy, as well as a graduate course in Celestial Mechanics. Dr. Kingston made observations of solar eclipses (London in 1925, and Louiseville, Quebec in 1932) in conjunction with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, whose London branch he helped to found.

He apparently loved to share his enthusiasm for astronomy with the general public, presenting displays on astronomy at the Western Fair and frequently giving talks on astronomy to groups outside the university (Tamblyn, 1938, Willis, 1970)."

[see Don's "History of the Department of Physics and Astronomy up to 2003"]

More of the Kingston History by Peter Broughton

(from his book "Looking Up")

HAROLD R. KINGSTON (1886-1963) was born in Picton, Ontario. After high school, he taught for a few years before commencing university studies. Following his M.A. at Queen's University in Kingston, he again taught. this time at an Indianapolis high school. He embarked on a Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago and completed it one year after accepting a position in the Department of Mathematics, University of Manitoba, where he was Lecturer and Assistant Professor from 1913 to 1921. He then moved to Western University in London where he had a distinguished career as Head of the Mathematics Department. Dean of Arts and Science and Principal of University College. Queen's and Western both honoured him with LL.D. degrees in 1953. Throughout his career he maintained a strong interest in education at the high school level, served as President of the Ontario Educational Association and wrote (with J.E. Durrant) widely-used Geometry textbooks. His only son, John, was a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Kingston also taught some Astronomy courses and consequently became actively interested in the Society. During his years in Winnipeg he was Secretary-Treasurer and President of the Centre there, and in London he was the founding President from 1922 to 1930 and Honorary President thereafter. Through his influence, Astronomy was put on a solid footing at Western and the Hume Cronyn Observatory was established. In the national Society he was Vice-President in 1927 and President in 1930-31. His role in the London Centre would be hard to over-estimate as he was consistently involved in meetings and activities for hearty 40 years. As a result of a bequest from his estate to the London Centre, many outstanding speakers have come to London to deliver the H.R. Kingston Memorial Lecture.