James Ferguson, Scottish astronomer, c 1760s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving from 1778 by Thomas Cook, showing the self-taught Scottish astronomer James Ferguson (1710-1776). Ferguson drew up Astronomical Rotula for showing the motions of the planets and the positions of the sun and moon. He also built an orrery, and invented a tide-dial. He observed the transit of Venus, and presented the Royal Society with a projection of the partial solar eclipse of 1764. He devised astronomical and mechanical models, and gave public lectures on experimental philosophy and electricity.