S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science




Watson, Mr R (astronomy)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

Mr R. Watson joined the civil service of the Cape Colony in May 1898 and from December 1901 was a general body assistant in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, stationed in Beaufort West. He was still employed in the Telegraph Department of the Union of South Africa and stationed in Beaufort West by 1924, but by 1938 had moved to Somerset West.

Watson became a member of the Cape Astronomical Association in 1916 and was still a member of its successor, the Astronomical Society of South Africa, in 1938. He served as joint vice president of the society for 1930/1 and brought the society fame by discovering two novae, becoming only the second astronomer in the world to achieve this. On 8 June 1918 he discovered Nova Aquilae, and on 25 May 1925 Nova Pictoris. The latter star was later found to be a double by Dr W.S. Finsen of the Union Observatory. Its discovery by Watson was widely reported overseas.


List of sources:

Houghton, H.E. Some South African amateur astronomers. MNASSA, 1947, Vol. 6(5), pp. 39-42 and Vol. 6(6), pp. 45-52.

Journal of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, 1924, Vol. 1(3), pp. 98-100 and 1938, Vol. 4(3), pp. 134-137: Lists of members; 1930, Vol. 2(5), Office bearers.

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.

Nova Pictoris (1925), with note by R. Watson. Journal of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, 1925, Vol. 1(5), pp. 157-160.

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

Union of South Africa. Public Service List 1914. Pretoria: Government Printer, 1914.


Compiled by: C. Plug


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