Reaching for the stars in statue campaign

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A smaller replica of what the Jeremiah Horrocks statue would look like. Pic © Tilly Kenyon JMU Journalism

A campaign has been launched to raise funds for a statue of a Toxteth man who is known as one of the founders of modern astronomy.

In the early 17th Century, Jeremiah Horrocks shook the astronomy theory of his time with his accurate prediction of when the planet Venus would move across the Sun.

Admirers of his work have set a crowdfunding financial target of around £150,000 to create two statues, one in Liverpool where he was born and one in Preston where he lived. They are also hoping to initiate an educational programme.

At the launch event there were special guest speakers such as Professor Allan Chapman of Oxford’s Wadham College and Frank Cottrell Boyce, an author and film director.

The motivation for a life-size sculpture has come from local sculptor and artist Philip Garrett.

He told JMU Journalism: “I think it is important to have this sculpture because he changed the world of science. We can use him as a role model.

“I made this maqeutte, which is an ongoing body of work, and a little gem of an idea to go on to make bigger statues. As a sculptor you always have to have these dreams of monumental work that can go and live on for centuries afterwards.”

Twitter: Tilly Kenyon

The maquette shows Horrocks holding a cross-staff, which is a navigational tool he would have used to help with his calculations.

Horrocks gained a place at Cambridge University at the age of 14 years old and left three years later without graduating. He then moved to Much Hoole, where he correctly predicted the transit of Venus on November 24, 1639, dying just two years later at the age of 22 of unknown causes.

Dr Michaela Mitchell, teacher of science at Liverpool Life Sciences UTC, told JMU Journalism: “Jeremiah Horrocks, who I hadn’t heard of until I met Phil and started to investigate all of this, is an absolute polymath.

“He’s from the middle of Liverpool, he just stands for everything that is good about education, science and he made these discoveries. He’s just the poster boy for social mobility, science and for art.”

The Liverpool Astronomical Society is working closely with the campaign, as is the Society for the History of Astronomy. The British Astronomical Association has already confirmed it will contribute funds to the campaign.

About Tilly Kenyon, JMU Journalism