Hough S.S.

HOUGH,  Sydney Samuel [FRS]
Professional AstronomerBorn: 1879, Stoke, U.K.
Died: 1923


In brief :
Famous for:
Director of
Cape Observatory  1907 – 1923.
Hough  became the first President of the Royal Society of South Africa. 1908
Hough  was chief assistant to Gill at the Cape Observatory between 1898 to 1907, and later director (H.M. Astronomer) at the Observatory (1907 – 1923). He inherited one of the finest and best-equipped Observatories in  the world fromGill. Hough’s work was mainly to complete Gills programmes. His term as director was not a period of change, but one of solid achievement (by completing Gills programmes).

Historical background :
Hough was educated at Christ’s Hospital, London, and St. Johns College, Cambridge, of which he became a Fellow. [Laing, p. 14.]
Hough was an authority on celestial dynamics and a brilliant  mathematician.  His special interest was in the dynamical theory of tides. It was deemed that Hough made the greatest  advances in this subject since LaPlace. [Laing, p. 14]
Hough came to the Cape Observatory as Chief Assistant to
Gill (1989 – 1907). He had little or no experience in practical  astronomy, but he learned quickly and Gill came to place complete  confidence in him. (Laing states that Hough was “selected with the stated intention that he should be Gill’s successor.”  [Laing, p. 14])
Hough was director of the Cape Observatory between 1907 and 1923.  During Gill’s time the observatory was transformed into one of the best in the world.  Gill designed and obtained  instruments, but Hough brought them into service. [Laing, p. 14]
He  concentrated on completing Gill’s programmes:
-Five out of twelve volumes of
Carte Du Ciel was published by Hough. (Look Gill) He measured with high accuracy, in spherical co-ordinates, over 20 000 positions of stars.
-Hough and his chief assistant
Halm did a lot of work on the Southern Hemisphere proper motion of stars.
-He also did the preparation of fundamental catalogues of precise star positions with the transit circle that Gill designed. [Laing, p. 14]
1908:  Hough became the first President of the Royal Society of South  Africa. [Laing, p. 5.]
Hough’s term as Director was made difficult by World War One and all the budget and other restraints that the war implied.
Educated at Christ’s Hospital, London.
Educated at St. Johns College, Cambridge, of which he became a Fellow.
1989 – 1907Chief Assistant at Royal Cape Observatory.
1907 – 1923 Director of Cape Observatory
Born 1870 at Stoke, Newington, in London.
Educated at Christ’s Hospital and St. Johns College, Cambridge. (He became  a fellow.)
1919:  Worldwide Influenza Epidemic. Hough’s wife was one of the first victims.
He contracted an illness whilst director (Influenza?)
Died 1923 in England.


Link to the Telescope Manufacturers.


Link to the Main Bibliography Section and more information about Sources.

Remaining Artifacts:
Laing, J.D. (ed.), The Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope 1820  – 1970 Sesquicentennial Offerings, pp. 14 -15.
Moore, P. & Collins, P., Astronomy in Southern Africa, pp. 79 – 80.   (General Source)
Smits, P., A Brief History of Astronomy in Southern Africa. (Unpublished).
By Hough

Related Internal Links:
Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope.
Related External Links:
Historical Astronomical Posts in Britain and Ireland




Sydney Samuel Hough

Source: Laing
Source: JASSA1923, Vol.1 No2, P.1.
Compilation of sketches concerning the Cape Observatory. Published by “The Cape Times”, 19  September 1908. Source:Warner, Astronomers