If he’s remembered at all, Charles Piazzi Smyth, born in Naples on 3 January 1819, is either the astronomer who first showed the increased clarity from mountain-top stargazing, or the mystical pyramidologist with bizarre theories about the Great Pyramid of Giza.
However, in Edinburgh – his “own adopted town” for 40 years – Piazzi Smyth is now largely forgotten. This is despite arguably his most audible legacy, one that can be heard every day, bar Sundays—the One O’Clock Gun, which has been fired regularly from the Castle ramparts since 1861.
Piazzi Smyth was among the last great “amateur” stargazers, most obviously during his 40 years as the second Astronomer Royal for Scotland and Professor of Practical Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh...
First published by The Scots Magazine, #January 2019.
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