Skip to main content

John Evershed: Papers and Photographic Plates, 1897 - 1950

Reference Code: GBR/0180/RGO 72

Scope and Contents

A collection of 67 notebooks documenting Evershed's solar research, along with two boxes of related photographic plates.


  • Creation: 1897 - 1950


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

John Evershed was born on the 26th of February 1864 in Gomshall, Surrey. He was a British astronomer who, in 1909, discovered the horizontal motion of gases outward from the centres of sunspots, a phenomenon known as the Evershed effect.

Evershed went on six expeditions in his career to observe total solar eclipses from Norway (1896), India (1898), Spain (1905), Australia (1922) and Yorkshire (1927). On his Norway expedition in 1896, he met fellow astronomer, Mary Acworth Orr, whom he married in 1906 and co-authored works with. In 1906, Evershed became assistant director of the Kodaikanal and Madras observatories in India, later becoming director in 1911. On an expedition to Kashmir in 1915, he made the first measurements supporting Albert Einstein's prediction that the wavelength of light emitted by a massive body (in this case the Sun) should be increased by an amount proportional to the intensity of the local gravitational field.

Evershed retired in 1923 and returned to England. In 1925, he built his own solar observatory at Ewhurst where he built a large spectroheliograph of special design and another with a high-dispersion liquid prism. He continued to study the wavelengths of H and K lines in solar prominences, measuring values of the solar rotation at high levels in different latitudes and at different phases of the solar cycle. His observatory closed in 1950, at which point Evershed donated some of his instruments to the RGO at Herstmonceux.

Evershed was a founder member of the British Astronomical Association and was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1894. In 1915, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and in 1918 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, for his contributions to astrophysics. He died on the 17th of November 1956, aged 92.


0.098 cubic metre(s) (7 archive boxes) : paper and glass plates

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Thought to have been donated to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich circa 1950.


Catalogued by Dr Emma Saunders, December 2019.

Finding aid date

2019-12-12 10:18:22+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom