S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Schonegevel, Mr Herbert William (astronomy)

Born: 1871, Place not known.
Died: 11 March 1947, Cape Town, South Africa.

Herbert William ('Schonie') Schonegevel, amateur astronomer, once remarked that an ancestor of his was the last official astronomer at the Cape under the Dutch rule, by which he probably meant Pieter Carstens Schonegevel* (1781-1836). Schonie was interested in astronomy from an early age and as a child observed the transit of Venus in 1882. In November 1912 he became a foundation member of the Cape Astronomical Association, served on its committee from 1916, and in 1917 succeeded T. McKenzie* as its secretary. He held this position until 1922, when the association amalgamated with the Johannesburg Astronomical Association to form the Astronomical Society of South Africa (ASSA). From that time he was the secretary of the Cape Centre of ASSA until at least 1929 and served on ASSA's council until 1933. In 1938 he was an emeritus member of the association and resided in Observatory, Cape Town.

Schonegevel' main astronomical interest was the moon, which he studied with his 76 mm telescope. He was an excellent lecturer and delivered talks on various astronomical topics, but particularly on the moon. At some time between 1917 and 1922 he was also president of the Cape Photographic Association. He was a thoughtful person and did his best to keep abreast of new developments in astronomy, even though it meant frequently revising his ideas and theories.

List of sources:

Journal of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, 1923-1932, Vol. 1-3, office bearers; 1938, Vol. 4(3), pp. 134-137, list of members.

Long, A.W. The foundation and development of the Astronomical Society of South Africa. Journal of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, 1930, Vol. 2(4), pp. 153-180.

Obituary: Herbert William Schonegevel. MNASSA, 1947, Vol. 6(3), p. 19.

Smits, P. Presidential address: The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa. MNASSA, 1960, Vol. 19(7), pp. 79-93.

Compiled by: C. Plug