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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

V. School of Mathematics and Astronomy

page 46

V. School of Mathematics and Astronomy.

The studies in this department are pursued in the following order:

First Year.

First Semester.—Arithmetic, beginning at decimal fractions.

Second Semester.—Advanced arithmetic.

Second Year.

First Semester.—Elements of Algebra.

Second Semester.—Elements of Algebra and Plane Geometry.

Third Year.

First Semester—Plane Trigonometry and Geometry of Space.

Second Semester—Spherical Trigonometry and Spherical Astronomy.

Fourth Year.

First Semester—Higher Algebra.

Second Semester—Analytical Geometry.

Fifth Year.

First Semester.—Calculus.

Sixth Year.

First Semester.—Spherical and Physical Astronomy.

Class Work.

  • Number of students in Arithmetic
  • Number of students in Elements of Algebra
  • Number of students in Higher Algebra
  • Number of students in Plane Geometry
  • Number of students in Solid Geometry
  • Number of students in Plane Trigonometry
  • Number of students in Spherical Trigonometry
  • Number of students in Spherical Astronomy
  • Number of students in Analytical Geometry
  • Number of students in Calculus
  • Number of students in Spherical and Physical Astronomy
page 47

The Laws Observatory.


  • Director, Joseph Ficklin.
  • Assistants Thomas J. Lowry,
  • Assistants Wm. A. Cauthorn.
  • Assistants W. C. Tindall.

Geographical Position:

  • Longitude from Washington, 1 h. 1 m. 6s. west.
  • Latitude, plus 38 deg. 56min. 51.5 sec.

Description of the Building.

During February and March, 1880, the old observatory building, which stood a [unclear: we] feet west of the main University edifice, was moved and enlarged. It now stands [unclear: if] the beautiful eminence in the Campus near the Chalybeate Spring. The meridian [unclear: he] of each pier now passes between the University Building and the President's [unclear: mansion]. In this position a good horizon is secured. In the old position the horizon [unclear: is] obstructed on the north by the Scientific Building, and on the east by the [unclear: University] Building.

The old dome was found to be too small for the Equatorial recently purchased, [unclear: and] a brick addition was made at the east end for the accommodation of this [unclear: instruct]. The whole building is sixty three feet long, from east to west, and fronts at.

The Equatorial room (A) is in the form of a regular octagonal prism surmounted [unclear: fa] hemispherical dome. Its width on the inside is 18 feet; the ceiling of the lower [unclear: part] is 10 1-5 feet high, and the top of the dome is 14? feet above the second floor.

The dome revolves upon six grooved wheels of cast iron, which run on a circular [unclear: rail]. Motion is communicated to the dome by a train of wheel work gearing to a [unclear: rim] of cogs attached to the interior face of the base plate of the dome.

The aperture in the dome, which is 22 inches wide, and extends a little beyond [unclear: he] zenith, is closed by four shutters.

The pier for the support of the Telescope is built of hard brick laid in hydraulic [unclear: cement]. It extends 6 feet below the surface of the earth, and is 6 feet square at the [unclear: as]. That part of the pier which is below the first floor is in the form of a square [unclear: rism], and is surrounded by a brick wall, which does not touch the pier, in order to [unclear: event] the communication of vibrations by the passing of carriages and wagons. [unclear: The] top of the pier is four feet [unclear: square], that portion of it above the first floor being in the form of the frustum of a square pyramid. Upon the top of the pier is laid a [unclear: quaere] cap-stone, 4 feet square and 5 inches thick, which supports, by 4 bearings, lie wooden stand on which the Telescope is mounted.

The Alt-azimuth room (C) is 13½ feet long from east to west, 13 1-5 feet wide, [unclear: and] the ceiling of the lower part is 9¾ feet high. It is surmounted by a roof in the [unclear: Kim] of a cone, which revolves on three cannon balls.

page 48
The New Observatory.

The New Observatory.

page 49

The aperture in this dome, which is 15 inches wide, is closed by two shutters. [unclear: pier], which extends 4 feet into the ground, is built of the same kind of material, in the same manner as that of the Equatorial.

The transit room (B) is situated between the Equatorial room and the [unclear: Altnuth] room. It is 28½ feet long from east to west, 131-5 feet wide, and 8 feet high high. [unclear: a] room contains three piers, constructed as those already described, for the support of the Transit Instrument, the Transit Theodolite, and the Sidereal Clock, [unclear: are] are two meridian observing slits 17 inches wide, one for the Transit Instruct, [unclear: at] the other for the Transit Theodolite. These slits begin 4 feet 5 inches from floor and extend through the roof, thus affording an uninterrupted view of the [unclear: industrial] meridian down to the horizon.

All these rooms are now lighted by gas.

Description of the Instruments.

The instrumental equipment consists of a Telescope, a Meridian Circle, an Altitude Azimuth Instrument, a Transit Theodolite, a Sextant and Mercurial Horizon, a Side-Clock, a Solar Clock, and a Twenty-inch Celestial Globe.

The Telescope (1) is an equatorial refractor of 7½ inches clear aperture and 10 feet [unclear: inches] focal length, made by Merz & Son, of Munich, Germany. The mounting is [unclear: admirably] executed, combining great delicacy with great strength and stability, and [unclear: fers], in some respects, from that of any other instrument in this country. It is [unclear: punished] with a filar and an annular micrometer, the wires of which may be illumined, in either a bright or dark field, at pleasure. There are six positive eye-pieces [unclear: the] Ramsden form, varying in power from 100 to 570, five of Gundlach's Periscopic pieces, with powers from 85 to 1016, and eight negative eye-pieces, with powers [unclear: from] 70 to about 600. The instrument is also furnished with reflecting prisms and shades. The hour circle is 10 inches in diameter. It is graduated on silver to [unclear: gle] minutes, and reads by two verniers to 4 seconds of time. The declination [unclear: cle] is 15 inches in diameter. It is graduated on silver to 10 minutes, and reads by verniers to 10 seconds of are.

The finder was made by Alyan Clark & Sons, of Cambridgeport, Mass. It has an [unclear: overture] of 1 /87 inches and a focal length of 17½ inches. The reading microscopes [unclear: are] made by R. B. Gans, of Boone county, Mo. The telescope is furnished with [unclear: ustable] clock-work, by which any heavenly body may be kept apparently at rest the field of view.

This telescope has an interesting history. It was ordered in 1848 from the [unclear: establement] of Merz & Mahler, of Munich, for the use of Shelby College, Shelbyville, [unclear: ntucky]. It was received at Shelbyville in November, 1850, and cost, when mounted, 8000. It was mounted under the direction of Prof. Joseph Winlock, and used [unclear: by] while he was a professor in that Institution. After Prof. Winlock went to Carnage. Mass., he borrowed this Telescope, and in connection with Dr. B. A. Gould, [unclear: unabolished] there the Cloverden Observatory. In "Loomis's Recent Progress of Ironomy," published in 1856, under the head of "Cloverden Observatory, [unclear: Cambridge] Massachusetts," the following statement is made:

"The great Telescope belonging to Shelby College was temporarily loaned to of, [unclear: Joseph] Winlock, and was removed to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where [unclear: ternary] accommodations were provided for it, and this establishment is known by the [unclear: me] of 'Cloverden Observatory.'" * * * * * * "Numerous page 50 observations on comets, and on some of the newly discovered planets [unclear: have] made with this Telescope by Dr. B. A. Gould and Prof. Joseph Winlock, which have been published in 'Gould's Astronomical Journal.' This [unclear: great]scope has recently been returned to Shelby College."

In 1869, Prof. "Winlock, who was then Director of the Observatory [unclear: of] College, went with his assistants to Shelbyville, Kentucky, and there used [unclear: this] scope in observing the total eclipse of the sun, which occurred on the 7th [unclear: of] that year.

In January, 1880, our four-inch refractor and five hundred dollars [unclear: were] in exchange for this Telescope. It was received in Columbia January mounted March 13, 1880.

The Telescope.

This cut is taken, by consent of the publishers, Messrs. Harper & Brothers, of [unclear: Ne] from Loomis's Practical Astronomy, a work that has been used as a standard for a [unclear: has] in this Observatory. Comparing the cut with the Equatorial here, one would [unclear: inhc] must have been intended to represent our instrument.

page 51

The Meridian Circle (4) was made by Brunner of Paris. The object glass has a [unclear: dear] aperture of 2 1-16 inches, and a focal length of 23 inches. The circle is 10½ [unclear: aches] in diameter. It is graduated on silver to five minutes, and reads by two [unclear: herders] and microscopes to three seconds. This instrument has five vertical wires and one horizontal. This system of wires may be illuminated by light reflected from [unclear: their] of two silvered mirrors, one of which may be placed in the axis of the [unclear: instrument] the other in front of the object glass. The eye-piece is furnished with a [unclear: rejecting] prism, and with sun-shades. There are two spirit levels belonging to this [unclear: Instrument], one of which is attached to the circle, the other a striding level to be [unclear: based] on the axis. The usefulness of this instrument has been greatly increased by [unclear: the] addition of a filar micrometer, made by W. T. Gregg, of New York.

The Alt-azimuth Instrument. (7) was made by E. & G. W. Blunt, of New York, The object glass has a clear aperture of 2 1/8 inches, and a focal length of 22 inches. The circles are 12 inches in diameter, and graduated to 10 minutes. The horizontal circles has four verniers with microscopes, and the vertical circle two; and each reads to ten seconds. This instrument is furnished with direct and reflecting eye-pieces, a collimating eye-piece and sunshades. The system of wires and the arrangement of the levels are the same as in the transit instrument. The illumination of the wires is effected by means of a silvered mirror placed in the axis.

In the old observatory this instrument was mounted under an opening in the roof which allowed motion only in or near the meridian. It is now mounted under the dome at the west end of the new building. In this position it can be directed to any point above the horizon, and thus be made more serviceable than it could be in its old position.

The Transit Theodolite (3) was made by Gregg & Rupp, of New York. The [unclear: object] glass has an aperture of 1? inches, and a focal length of 18 inches. The [unclear: horizontal] circle is 10½ inches in diameter, and reads by a vernier to one-half a minute; [unclear: the] vertical circle is 8 inches in diameter, and reads to one minute. The magnetic [unclear: needle] carries a vernier at each end, by means of which the are of the compass box can be read to single minutes. This instrument has two wires, illuminated in the same way as in the altitude and azimuth instrument. Belonging to this instrument is a strong portable tripod used for field work.

The Sextant was made by E. & G. W. Blunt, of New York. The are is [unclear: graduated] on silver, and reads by a vernier and microscope to ten seconds.

The Sidereal Clock (5), which was made by Gregg & Rupp, of New York, has a mercurial pendulum.:

The Solar Clock (6) was made by Riggs, of Philadelphia.

The sidereal clock stands upon an isolated brick pier in the southwest corner of the transit room. The solar clock hangs on the pier which supports the alt-azimuth instrument.

The Observatory is connected by a loop with the lines of the Western Union Telegraph Company, thus furnishing the means for illustrating the method of finding the longitude by electric signals.

The present greatly improved condition of the observatory is due to the liberal-By of the President, Dr. S. S. Laws, who, for the advancement of astronomical science, has given to the University more than two thousand dollars in order to procure the Telescope and put it in complete working order, and to move and enlarge the Observatory Building.

page 52

In view of this liberalty on the part of Dr. Laws, the Board of Curators is decided that the Observatory shall hereafter be known as "The Laws [unclear: Obsertort]," and the Telescope as "The Laws Telescope." They have also [unclear: established] a prize in the form of a gold medal, to be known as "The S. S. Lawrytronomical Medal," to be awarded annually to that student who shall stand [unclear: highest] in Theoretical and Practical Astronomy.

Work Done in the Observatory.

During the past year, in addition to the usual drill given to students of [unclear: As] my in the use of the instruments, and the accommodation of many visitors, [unclear: the] sets of observations on twenty pairs of stars were made for the rigorous [unclear: determination] of the latitude of the Observatory. The instrument used was a large [unclear: Ze] Telescope belonging to the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.

Observations on sun spots, comets, and the usual observations for time [unclear: have] made.

Extensive preparations were made for observing the transit of Venus, [unclear: which] eurred Dec. 6, 1882, but the sky was obscured here by dense clouds during whole time of the transit.

Telegraphic announcements of astronomical discoveries are now sent [unclear: to] Observatory by Prof. E. C. Pickering, Director of Harvard College Observatory