Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bath, U.K. Telescopes, Work and "Other Stuff"...

At Paddington Station, London.
August 27, 2014 -- Today we were off to Bath, about 115 miles west of London. We took the Underground the Paddington Railway Station and boarded the train for Bath at 10:30. The journey took 1 1/2-hours and we arrived at noon right on schedule. As a note -- trains in the U.K are fast and modern -- and electric. But, so far as we've seen, they have no wifi!! It's an interesting contrast to our experience in Ireland where all of the inter-city busses and trains had high-speed wifi for its passengers! Go figure..

As has been the case with 99% of the cities we've visited on this trip, Bath is a beautiful. All of the buildings are the same color and it turns out that, in this part of the country, buildings (stores, homes, government buildings -- everything) are built with "local stone" only. It's a neat architectural style and is quite beautiful. Bath is an ancient city, having become a Roman Spa in 60 C.E.  The city became a " U.N. World Heritage Site" in 1987 and has all the modern amenities, including a McDonald's and several Starbuck's, so it's certainly joined the 21st Century.
One of the many cute cafe's in Bath.

The main reason we went to Bath is because it is the home of William Herschel, an amateur astronomer and telescope maker. Earlier in life, Herschel was a musician and initially moved to Bath because of that city's influence in the medium.  His "music" led him to an interest in the stars and optics. At first his observations were with a small "refracting" telescope. He soon became disenchanted with the quality and abilities of the telescope and went about building his own Newtonian reflector. His first telescope was a 6.2" he fashioned in his own shops. Finally, his largest endeavor was a 49 1/2" 40-foot long telescope constructed between 1785-89. THAT is a big telescope!! As mentioned in a previous post, and among his many observations, was credited with the discovery of the planet Uranus in March of 1781.
A Replica of Herschel's
6.2" Reflector

We enjoyed a wonderful visit at the Herschel home and museum highlighted by meeting Patrick and Debbie, the museum curator. We toured the shops, the residence, the rear yard and watched a short film about his life and efforts. It was a most enjoyable visit -- and I have to thank Linda for putting up with my obsession with astronomy and telescopes. She's a good sport!!

Sun-Dial in Herschel's backyard.
We said our goodbye's to our hosts and made our way to the "Museum of Bath at Work". The museum was opened in 1978 and covers the subject of "Work in Bath" for the last 2000 years! Its 3 floors are jammed with interesting and instructional exhibits about the "common man" and his labors. We enjoyed a "cuppa" on the 3rd floor of the museum at their "honor system" cafe! Most interesting is that, when we entered the museum and paid our modest 4-pound fee to enter, the volunteer's name was "Margaret Thatcher"!

We continued on our way and explored much of the city center. During a delightful lunch break we met "Josh and Freddie" who were life-long residents of the city. We talked about the city, travel and living in the U.K. Another great day in London, its environs and the U.K.