KEN FISHER examines THE TEIDE ADVENTURERS, those larger-than-life figures for whom the magnetic draw of climbing to the top of Teide proved irresistible. This time he turns his attentions to CHARLES PIAZZI SMYTH (1819-1900), the Astronomer Royal for Scotland and an Egyptologist
CHARLES PIAZZI SMYTH was born in Naples. His father was then a Captain and later an Admiral in the British Navy and also a keen amateur Astronomer. Charles’s godfather was Giuseppe Piazzi, a famous Italian astronomer, and therefore Charles’s future was most decidedly written in the stars.
Due to hard work and good connections Smyth had a meteoric rise and, at the age of 27 was appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland.
In 1704, Isaac Newton had written in his book Opticks that telescopes cannot be so formed as to take away that confusion of the Rays which arises from the Tremors of the Atmosphere. The only Remedy is a most serene and quiet Air, such as may perhaps be found on the tops of the highest Mountains above the grosser Clouds.