Founding Secretary Stuart Williams (standing centre left) and Founding Treasurer Ken Goward (standing left) join prospective SHA founder members at Wadham College, Oxford on 29 June 2002

Founding Secretary Stuart Williams (centre) and Founding Treasurer Ken Goward (left) join other SHA members at Wadham College, Oxford on 29 June 2002

Founded on June 29, 2002 at Wadham College, Oxford, by writer and local historian Stuart Williams and well-known astronomy historian Dr. Allan Chapman of Wadham College, with the able assistance of amateur astronomer and historian Ken Goward, FRAS, the SHA is now well-established as the UK’s national society dedicated to the specialised, but ever-fascinating field of the history of astronomy.

Governed by its elected Council which works in co-operation with a number of appointed Officers and the Members at large, the SHA offers the following facilities:


SHA Autumn Conference and AGM, BMI, Birmingham, 2011

SHA Autumn Conference and AGM, BMI, Birmingham, 2011

Each year, the SHA organises two conferences in the Spring and the Autumn (the latter incorporating the Annual General Meeting).  The Spring Conference is often a Joint Meeting with another like-minded organisation, and takes place at various venues, typically Greenwich, Cambridge and Manchester.  The Autumn Conference takes place at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, where the SHA’s Sir Robert Ball Library is based, close to the end of October.  In addition our Summer Picnic is an informal social event, usually at a place of astronomical interest, and occasionally we also add a slightly more formal Summer Outing.  Admission to meetings (apart from the AGM itself) is normally at extra cost to membership.


The Society’s Survey of Astronomical History is a core element of its work and the primary reason for its founding.  The late SHA Councillor Roger Jones was its founding Co-ordinator, his successor from July 2015 is Kevin Johnson). The Survey aims to reveal the depth of local history of astronomy in particular, across the UK, and is housed online and in the SHA’s library in Birmingham. For more details, see the main menu link to the separate Survey website.

Library Service

Based at the Birmingham and Midland Institute (www.bmi.org.uk) the SHA’s Sir Robert Ball Library includes both extensive reference collections, books, journals etc and a lending library (the Sir Patrick Moore Lending Collection, formerly the Sir Patrick Moore Library), staffed by volunteer librarians and overseen by a Library Committee.  The Library Service is currently administered by Librarian Stuart Williams (who will be retiring at the end of March 2016).

Access to the Sir Robert Ball Library is currently by arrangement only but it is hoped to open regularly on at least a monthly basis from 2016- see the Library page for details and a brief history of the Library.


The SHA’s Archive is based at the Library of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, under the supervision of Institute Librarian and SHA Archivist Mark Hurn.  It seeks to preserve a record of the Society and of members’ work and to encourage the deposit of original research materials at appropriate record offices.

The old University Observatory at Cambridge now houses the Library of the Institute of Astronomy - and the SHA Archive

The old University Observatory at Cambridge now houses the Library of the Institute of Astronomy – and the SHA Archive


The SHA produces a range of publications which are all benefits of membership:

The SHA e-News : Edited by David Sellers.

The SHA Bulletin : Edited by Carolyn Kennet and Len Adam.

The Antiquarian Astronomer : Edited by Kevin Johnson.

More details of each can be found by clicking the relevant tab at the top.

The SHA Website : Edited byJohn Chuter.

The SHA Survey is a separate website edited by Kevin Johnson. Click on the tab at the top.


You are invited to download our general triform leaflet and our current programme leaflet, both in pdf form, via the following links:

SHA triform leaflet

SHA triform Programme

PDF Reader

If you do not already have a pdf reader installed on your computer, follow the next link to download Adobe Acrobat Reader, free of charge:

Acrobat Reader 

The Council of the SHA