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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 11

III.—Course in Astronomy

page 13

III.—Course in Astronomy.

The Dearborn Observatory forms the Astronomical Department of the University. Its objects are to make original researches in Astronomical Science, to assist in the application of Astronomy to Geography, in communicating exact time, and other useful objects, and to furnish instruction in Astronomy to the students of the University, both those in the regular course and those who wish to give especial attention to the study.

The principal instruments of the Observatory are:

1. The great Equatorial Refractor, made by Alvan Clark & Sons, of Cambridge, Mass., the second largest telescope in this country. This instrument is placed in the Dearborn Tower, built by the munificence of the Hon. J. Young Scammon, LL. D. The Dimensions of the Equatorial are:
  • Diameter of Declination Circle, 30 inches.
  • Diameter of Hour Circle, 22 inches.
  • Focal length of Object Glass, 23 feet.
  • Aperture of Object Glass, 18½ inches.

The circles are read by two microscopes each, the hour circle to seconds of time, and the declination circle to ten seconds of space.

2. A meridian circle of the first class, constructed by those eminent artists, Messrs. A. Repsold & Sons, of Hamburg. This instrument has a telescope of six French inches aperture, and divided circle of forty inches diameter; otherwise it is like Bessel's celebrated Koenigsberg circle by the same makers, with some late improvements in the illumination of the field and the wires, and apparatus for registering declinations.

The Observatory has a chronometer (Wm. Bond & Son, No. 279), a clock, by E. Howard & Co., and an astronomical library.

The course of Instruction includes:
1.Instruction in Astronomy to the Undergraduates (see Clasical Course).
2.In the determination of time, latitude and longitude, to students of the Engineering Course.
3.In higher Mathematics and Astronomy to such students as wish to prepare themselves for positions in observatories, or other scientific establishments, or for professorships of mathematical departments in colleges.
This will include instruction in the following subjects:
1.Modern Higher Geometry, applied to Conic Sections and Spherical Trigonometry.
2.Analytical Geometry and the Differential and Integral Calculus.
3.Spherical and Practical Astronomy.page 14
4.The Method of Least Squares.
5.The Theory of the Motions of the Heavenly Bodies.
6.The Theory of Instruction in Science.
The authors chiefly referred to on the respective subjects will be:
1.Chasles, Steiner, Geiser.
2.Salmon, Courtenay, Cournot.
3.Brunnow, Chauvenet.
5.Gauss, Encke.

Practical exercises with the instruments will take place regularly.

On those who shall pursue a full course of at least two years, shall have passed a satisfactory examination, and shall prepare an original thesis on some astronomical or mathematical subject, the degree of Bachelor of Science will be conferred.

During the past three years the Director has completed a catalogue of Latitude Stars for the United States Lake Survey, and in connection with U. S. Engineers and other officers, has determined the geographical positions of Fort Hays, Kansas; Denver and Pueblo, Colorado; Santa Fe and Fort Union, New Mexico; Bismarck, D. T., and Evanston, W. T.; and has conducted operations at Chicago for local time in determining the longitudes of Pembina and of Cairo, Ills. Other work of the same kind will be undertaken in the future, so that students who desire it, and are properly prepared therefor, will probably have the opportunity of taking part in important operations in practical Astronomy, as applied to geography and geodesy.

Several of the graduates have already taken high rank as astronomical observers and surveyors. One is Director of the Cincinnati Observatory; another professor of Astronomy at the U. S. Observatory at Washington; another occupies a position in the government Observatory in Sweden, and others have done good work in surveying boundary lines in the Territories.

The preparation desirable for a student in practical Astronomy consists in a thorough knowledge of practical arithmetic, elementary algebra, and geometry, and plane trigonometry; and if possible of the German language.