The Proctor-Parkes Incident: Politics, Protestants and Popular Astronomy in Australia in 1880
HISTORICAL RECORDS OF AUSTRALIAN SCIENCE | CSIRO PUBLISHING | Published : 2017
Henry Parkes' intervention to placate the Sabbatarian movement and prevent British astronomer Richard Proctor from delivering an astronomical lecture on Sunday 5 September 1880 created a major controversy in the Australian colonies. Controversy had been central to much of Proctor's success, and in this case drew on a long-standing connection between astronomy and religion. An examination of the Proctor-Parkes incident shows how popular science works in culture by drawing on and sustaining the analogical connections between scientific ideas and broader cultural concerns.
Work on this article was conducted as part of research towards a PhD at Swinburne University and was supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award. Mysupervisors Jock Given, Julian Thomas and Chris Fluke have shaped this research profoundly. Bernard Lightman kindly offered useful advice on an earlier version. The reviewer of this paper made many helpful suggestions.