During the summer of 2014, University of Notre Dame senior Anastasia Wright spent three weeks in Ireland studying the 19th-century astronomer William Parsons, the third Earl of Rosse. Lord Rosse is best known for building a 72-inch telescope, the largest in the world until the early 20th century. “He trained his own workers. He built his own forge. I found that really fascinating and that got me wondering why someone like him would be building such a thing at the time,” said Wright, a history major in the College of Arts and Letters.
To conduct her research, Wright visited the National Library of Ireland and the Irish National Archives, both located in Dublin, where she read the writings of Lord Rosse and other primary sources about his life. She also secured access to Lord Rosse’s private archives in Birr, Ireland, where the telescope still stands. Wright plans to use the information she gathered to write a senior thesis about Lord Rosse.
Wright received funding for her project from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts through its Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, which provides financial support for students to engage in independent research or creative projects, or to present their research at conferences.
“Living in Ireland is wonderful,” said Wright. “Being able to go to the library when I need to, visit the archives when I need to, it’s really great to have that sort of freedom that I need to do the research.”