Prof. Vinicio Barocas (1914-2016), 1940 - 2017
Scope and Contents
- 1940 - 2017
Conditions Governing Access
Biographical / Historical
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