Barometer on show at museum

The Admiral FitzRoy type barometer.

The Admiral FitzRoy type barometer.

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Finding a way to accurately predict the weather has baffled scientists for centuries.

The enormity of the challenge has not stopped some of the finest inventors coming up with complex new contraptions designed to forecast rain or shine.

An Admiral FitzRoy type oak barometer, which is on display as part of Leeds City Museum’s new For All Seasons exhibition, would have been state-of-the-art in the late 19th century.

An admiral in the British Navy and captain of the HMS Beagle, which carried the great Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage, Robert FitzRoy was a weather forecasting trailblazer responsible for the first weather forecast issued by the Met Office in 1861.

The barometer contains a storm glass, invented by FitzRoy, which holds a mixture of different chemicals in water which were thought to change in appearance in anticipation of different weather patterns. However, most modern experiments have found that the glasses are not very accurate.

Ruth Martin, Leeds City Museum’s curator of exhibitions, said: “The innovation and creativity used to make amazing inventions like this barometer shows just how important the weather and the changing seasons have been to people’s lives over many centuries. Despite that, even today the weather remains an unpredictable force which has the power to change every aspect of the world we live in.”

For All Seasons, which runs until August 28, explores how the changing seasons shape the world. Featuring centrepieces such as a giant sandcastle and indoor tree, the exhibition includes vintage fashion and John Atkinson Grimshaw paintings.

For more details about the free exhibition visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Seasons.aspx.

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