Rev'd Dr. Nevil Maskelyne

Britain's fifth Astronomer Royal, the Rev'd Dr. Nevil Maskelyne (1732-1811), was a central figure in the planning of the 1769 British ToV expeditions. He advised on the appropriate instruments, developed observing protocols, helped select the appropriate personnel for the observing teams, received and corrected reports of observations, and transmitted data to others. He appears to have done so with good humour and efficiency, for the most part. His importance for the realization of the Canadian ToV data cannot be overemphasised.

Before he was appointed Astronomer Royal, he himself was sent to observe the 1761 ToV from the Island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. The single largest expenditure of the two astronomers manning that station was for alcohol!

Image courtesy of Specula astronomica minima (©Specula astronomica minima).