General Edmund Neville
Beverley, Yorkshire, England
Eastbourne, Sussex, England


From the archive of “Nature” magazine (2 March 1940):

Mr Edmund Neville Nevill died on January 14 at his home in Eastbourne at the age of ninety-three. His contributions to science were in astronomy, and his first paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society appeared in June 1873. This paper was entitled “Note on the Possible Existence of a Lunar Atmosphere,” in which he suggested that observations of occultations did not disprove the existence of an-atmosphere on the moon. Altogether he contributed about fifty papers to the Royal Astronomical Society and until 1888 he wrote under the name of Edmund Neison, after which he reverted to his family name in accordance with the terms of a will.

Although most of Nevill’s work was associated with problems in dynamical astronomy, in particular with those connected with the motion of the moon, he carried out observational work as well. In 1876 his well-known book, “The Moon and the Conditions and Configurations of its Surface,” was published, and ten years later he brought out a work with the title, “Astronomy, a Simple Introduction to a Noble Science”.

Among his numerous contributions to the Royal Astronomical Society may be mentioned an important paper in November 1878 which showed that ancient eclipses indicated a greater value of the moon’s secular acceleration than the Arabian observations suggested. He showed that it was possible to effect a reconciliation by postulating a term with a period of one to two thousand years and a coefficient three or four times that of Hansen’s, and he expressed doubts regarding the existence of tidal retardations in the rotation of the earth.

In a number of other papers, he dealt with similar subjects, showing the presence of terms in the moon’s motion due to the direct action of the planets, the value of the long inequality due to the disturbing action of Mars, lunar perturbations arising from Jupiter, etc. In the last point he was many years ahead of all other workers in the same field.

His research in dynamical astronomy was not confined to lunar work and his versatile mind was able to turn to other branches. As one example, reference may be made to an important paper in 1879 with the title “On the General Solution of the Problem of Disturbed Elliptic Motion”. An example of his interest in observational astronomy is shown by his work with a Newtonian reflector of aperture on the satellites of Saturn. He communicated his results to the Royal Astronomical Society in 1876 and dealt with his observations of Titania and Oberon, which he was just able to observe under favourable conditions.

In 1882 Nevill went to Natal to observe the transit of Venus, and as a result of the interest aroused in astronomy, a semi-public observatory was established through the generosity of certain residents in Durban assisted by the Corporation. Later, when this was taken over by the Government of Natal, Nevill was appointed the first director. Not only did he carry out the ordinary routine work of the observatory, but he also conducted research in his favourite subject and deduced new values for lunar elements. Reference has been made earlier to the results of some of this research. Unfortunately, many of his results, including his lunar tables, still await publication.

After his retirement from the observatory he does not appear to have done very much work, and the last paper that he contributed to the Monthly Notices was in
May 1915 entitled, “On the Conjunction of Stars with the Moon, recorded by Ptolemy'”. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1873 and a fellow of the Royal Society in 1908.


Archive statistics 1887 - 1903

Tournaments Southern Transvaal Championships - 1903 Leicestershire Championships - 1901 Natal Championships - 1899 Sussex Championships - 1895 Welsh Championships - 1895 Warwickshire Championships - 1895 Clifton - 1895 Walmer - 1887

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