Honour for historic astronomer and clergyman from South Kilworth who was inspired by the heavens in more ways than one

A brilliant pioneer astronomer and clergyman from Harborough district is to be honoured.

By Red Williams
Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 3:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 3:39 pm
The Rev Dr William Pearson
The Rev Dr William Pearson

The Rev Dr William Pearson helped to set up the world-famous Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) – and was inspired by the heavens in more ways than one.

The iconic trailblazer will be remembered later this month with a green plaque by Leicestershire County Council.

The Rev Pearson became rector of South Kilworth in 1817 and lived there until he died in 1847 aged 80.

During his time in the village the dedicated skygazer carried out three astonishing decades of astronomical observations.

The Rev Pearson erected a new wing in his rectory to house his state-of-the-art telescopes.

And he later helped mastermind a purpose-built observatory in South Kilworth.

The Rev Pearson co-founded the RAS, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this month.

The father-of-one wrote a major work, the two-volume 'An Introduction to Practical Astronomy', which won him an RAS gold medal.

His work was so definitive that it was still being used by astronomers as a textbook until the end of the 19th century.

A green plaque to honour the Rev Pearson will be unveiled at the Old Rectory in South Kilworth on Thursday January 16.

He was nominated for the award by Mike Frost, who is a fellow of the RAS, and Carolyn Bedwell, a member of Leicester Astronomical Society.

Mr Frost said: “A green plaque to the Rev Dr Pearson would honour a significant figure from the history of British observational astronomy and just in time for the RAS’s 200th birthday!"

Cllr Louise Richardson, county council cabinet member for green plaques, said: “The Rev Dr Pearson played a big role in the development of astronomy in the 19th century.

“He also built and endowed a school in South Kilworth and was a leading figure in the local community.”

Cllr Richardson added: “He is very deserving of a green plaque in his honour.”

More information on the green plaque scheme can be found by visiting www.leicestershire.gov.uk/greenplaques