The Astronomical Association of Queensland (AAQ) is Queensland’s oldest astronomical body, with its predecessor organisations extending back to 1896, when a group of people met in Brisbane and agreed to collectively purchase a 6-inch Grubb telescope for £ 70.

Since that time, astronomy in Queensland has seen many changes, a number of strong personalities, and has a rich and vibrant history.  These pages have been prepared to try to recount some of that history.

thumbnail of Visual History of the AAQ
Visual History of the AAQ – click to enlarge

The Brisbane Astronomical Society (1896-1917) and the 6″ Grubb Refractor

The following pages examine the history of the Brisbane Astronomical Society, its 6” Grubb refractor, and the key individuals within it, namely Messrs Eglinton and Thomson as events played out from the 1890’s until its final demise in 1917, and further later related events.

Queensland Popular Science and Art Society (1919-1927?)

The Astronomical Society of Queensland (1927-1978)

Tales of two AAQs


Persons of interest

Following is a list of significant people involved in Queensland astronomy over the years.

John Beebe (1866-1936)

John Beebe (1866-1936), architect and amateur astronomer, a contemporary of Eglinton and Thomson, was a member of the Astronomical Society of Queensland.

Brisbane’s famous early astronomer – Captain Henry O’Reilly (1824-1877)

Captain Henry O’Reilly (1824-1877) may well be considered Queensland’s first non-indigenous astronomer.

Arthur Page Tamborine Observatory 1981

Dr Colonel Arthur Anthony Page (1922-2011)

Arthur Page was a well known amateur astronomer who was a founding member and first President of the Astronomers’ Association of Queensland (AAQ Mk 1).

Francis Drummond Greville Stanley (1839-1897)

Francis Drummond Greville Stanley purchased the 6″ Grubb Refractor, later used by the Brisbane Astronomical Society (1896). His untimely death and the legacy of the Grubb Refractor and his home are the background for much of the turmoil in the years that followed.

James Park Thomson (1854-1941)

James Park Thomson scientist and his observations of the transit of Mercury in 1894 and earlier transit of Venus attest to his skills. He was unfairly cast as the villain in later papers about the demise of the Brisbane Astronomical Society in 1917. This was simply because much of the material was not available at the time.

Dudley Eglinton (1850 – 1937)

Dudley Eglinton was one of the founders of the Brisbane Astronomical Society in 1896. Eglinton never had a telescope of any size of his own (contrary to at least one learned report which had him with a 12” reflector in the 1890’s), but was an astronomical columnist and populariser, and a demonstrator, making effective use of the 6″ Grubb Refractor owned by the BAS until the telescope was sold.