Prof. Vinicio Barocas (1914-2016), 1940 - 2017
Scope and Contents
Includes photographs of Vinicio Barocas during and after WW2, two prisoner identity discs from his time in a Canadian internment camp, telegrams to secure his release, photographs of Abinger, an autobiography by Barocas, and a biography of Barocas by his friend Ian Cuerden.
- 1940 - 2017
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Biographical / Historical
Prof. Vinicio Barocas (2 Aug. 1914 - 16 Nov. 2016) was an astronomer, freemason, Rotarian, academic and refugee who worked as an assistant at the ROG Time Department at Abinger from 1941-1949.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1938 he completed his doctoral thesis in astronomy at the University of Florence, while working at the Arcetri Observatory. Being of Italian Jewish origin, Barocas was soon forced to leave Italy when racial purity laws were introduced following a visit by Adolf Hitler. With the help of Dr Wilfred Hall, a wealthy private astronomer in Northumberland, he secured a non-salaried position at Hepple to work for Hall on the infrared spectrum of the sun. When Italy joined the Axis on June 10th 1940, however, Barocas became an enemy alien overnight. He was arrested and was interned briefly as an alien in wartime at Isle St Helene, Montreal, Canada. Barocas was duly released after the intervention of the then Astronomer Royal and professional astronomy friends, who helped arrange for his employment as a Temporary Observing Assistant at the Time Department in Abinger in August 1941. He remained in employment there until 1949, when he took up his post as Director of the Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory in Preston, where he stayed until retirement in August 1979. Towards the end of the war, Barocas made programmes for the Italian section of the BBC on recent scientific developments. He remained active in his outreach activities in astronomy through subsequent involvement in youth education, appearing also on episodes of The Sky at Night. Barocas was married to Winifred (Winny) Esther Simons whom he met at Abinger. He lived to be 102.
Ian Cuerden was a close friend of Barocas. Upon Barocas’s death, with the approval of Barocas’ only surviving relative (now residing in Rome), Cuerden salvaged these photographs along with 15 glass plates from Barocas’ home. He generously donated scans of the photographs to the RGO Archives in 2019, along with 15 glass plates (now at RGO 85).
3 folder(s) : paper & photograph
Language of Materials
Former / Other Reference
TAN 2019/0006 & TAN 2020/002
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Ian Cuerden in August 2019.
Finding aid date
- From the Management Group: Royal Greenwich Observatory (Organization)
Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository
Cambridge University Library
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom
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