The Royal Astronomical Society Library

Contact details

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The Royal Astronomical Society Library

About the library

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) was founded in 1820, and encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. It has more than 4,000 members, mainly professional astronomers and geophysicists, as well as students, amateur astronomers, historians of astronomy and geophysics, and others with an interest in geo- and astro-sciences.

The Library was founded at the inception of the Society. It has been increased continuously by donation and purchase and is now one of the most comprehensive collections of astronomical and geophysical works. The Library holds about 25,000 bound volumes, with books dating from 1472 to the present day, including 53 incunables, and key works by Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Johannes Kepler. The library subscribes to 40 current journals, and holds over 3,000 non-current journals. There is a notable collection of star catalogues and star atlases.

The RAS archives contain institutional and membership records dating back to 1820, as well as the working papers of William, Caroline and John Herschel, and other leading 19th- and 20th-century astronomers. The RAS has a collection of over 3,000 astronomical glass plate photographs and lantern slides.

The local library catalogue is available online.

The Royal Astronomical Society also contributes to the Archives Hub. To browse descriptions of their archive materials, visit their Archives Hub information page.

Accessing materials

Can I see live document availability on Library Hub Discover? No.

Can I obtain items via inter-library loan? No - this library does not participate in the inter-library lending scheme.

Can I visit the library to view materials? Yes - see the library's website for access details. If you wish to visit it is advisable to contact the library in advance, to ensure that they can accommodate you and that the material you need will be available.


Browse all of the Royal Astronomical Society's records in Library Hub Discover here.