By Pietro Baracchi, F.R.A.S.,

Government Astronomer of Victoria.

“The Commonwealth of Australia; Federal Handbook, prepared in connection with the eighty-fourth meeting of the
British Association for the Advancement of Science,
held in Australia, August, 1914.”
pg.326-390. (1914)

By British Association for the Advancement of Science.
Federal Council in Australia, Australia.
Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, George Handley Knibbs

(c) Amateur Astronomy.

The astronomical work considered under this heading is that which has been produced by Australians for the love of it and not for pay nor as a discharge of official functions. [pg.351]

In the popular mind, amateur efforts are frequently associated with the idea of inferiority, but the persons who will be referred to in this division of Australian Astronomy need not fear that the adjective amateur is given to them with any intention on my part of underrating their abilities as astronomers or of placing them and their work in a class below that of officialdom. The name of John Tebbutt will be found amongst them. They are, therefore, in good company, and may well be proud of it.

The astronomical work done by Mr. John Tebbutt at his own observatory, Windsor, New South Wales, claims for him first place on the list of private citizens in Australia who have cultivated astronomy for its own sake.

His first contribution to the store of observed astronomical phenomena dates from 1854. His fame amongst astronomers the world over dates from his discovery of the Great Comet of 1861. His title to the full recognition of valuable service rendered for the credit of Australia and the advancement of astronomical science is based on a lifetime of assiduous and diligent observations of great accuracy and importance, extending over a period of more than half a century. Mr. Tebbutt is now an old man and has practically closed his career as an astronomer, and it seems just to remind Australians that they should lose no opportunity to honour this veteran observer and to show an adequate appreciation of his merits.

Mr. Tebbutt, in his History and Description of the Windsor Observatory, written in 1887 (17), and in his later work, Astronomical Memoirs, written in 1908 (18), gives a full account of the Windsor Observatory and of the work done by him, from which the information contained in the following notes has been drawn, not infrequently in his own words.

Mr. John Tebbutts Observatory, Windsor, New South Wales.

(18) At the eastern extremity of the municipal town of Windsor, lies the Peninsular Estate, a tract containing about 250 acres of the richest alluvial land. It is so called because it is nearly surrounded by the courses of the Hawkesbury River and its tributary, the South Creek, at their confluence. On a hill situated a little south-west of the middle of the estate, and whose summit is about 50 feet above the mean tide level, stands the residence of Mr. Tebbutt and his observatory, whose geographical position is — Latitude 33° 36′ 30.8″ south ; Longitude 10h. 3m. 20.51s east.

Tebbutts work begins in 1854. He was then 20 years of age. His equipment from 1854 to 1861 consisted of a sextant, artificial horizon, and a common but excellent eight-day pendulum clock, and a telescope, 15/8 inches aperture. He chiefly employed these instruments for self training and providing gratuitous information of a popular character for the daily newspapers. To these instruments were added a refracting telescope, by Jones, of 3¼ inches aperture and 48 inches focal length, in November, 1861 ; and an excellent eight-day half-second box chronometer by Parkinson and Frodsham, in April, 1864. At the close of 1863, a small observatory was erected on the western side of his residence. It consisted of a small wooden building, comprising a transit room and a prime vertical room. An octagonal tower, rising from the centre of the building, served to accommodate the refracting telescope, which he himself mounted in 1864 according to the [pg.352] Sisson or old English method. In the same year he installed also a transit instrument with object glass of 2.1 inches aperture, and 20 inches focal length, made for him by Tornaghi of Sydney. The local mean time was determined with this instrument for many years.

All extrameridional observations were made with the 3¼−inch telescope till 1872. This was provided with two ring micrometers made by Tornaghi, and eyepieces ranging in magnifying power from 30 to 120.

In 1874, he acquired an equatorial by Cooke and Son, of York, with object glass of 4½ inches aperture and 70 inches focal length, mounted according to Fraunhofer method.

In the same year a circular wooden building, 12 feet in diameter, was erected close to the observatory for the installation of this equatorial.

In 1879 a substantial observatory of brick was erected on the south-west side of the old buildings, and the equatorial, together with a new transit instrument by Cooke and Son, were permanently mounted on solid masonry piers within the new building.

The object glass of the transit instrument has a clear aperture of 3 inches and a focal length of 35 inches.

Another fine chronometer by John Poole was acquired in 1882.

Finally, in 1887, to the equipment of Mr. Tebbutts observatory was added a fine equatorial 8 inches aperture and 115 inches focal length, mounted on the Fraunhofer or German plan, and provided with all the usual requisites of a first-class instrument. It was made in 1882 by Grubb, of Dublin.

In the annual reports of his operations, of which he gives a methodical and faithful account from 1864 to 1907, it is shown that his astronomical activities were chiefly directed towards the comets and lunar occultations of stars, but he contributed also, throughout his career, to the study of the phenomena of Jupiters satellites, the variability of special stars, such as η Argus, R Carinae, and others, and later, with his larger telescope, devoted much energy to micrometric comparisons of the major and minor planets with neighbouring stars and the observation of the more interesting southern binary stars.

His record of work on comets is remarkable. He began with the discovery of the Great Comet of 1861, which caused a sensation, not only on account of its brilliancy, but also because the earth passed through its tail. He observed the return of the celebrated Enckes comet in the following year, and on six other apparitions in the years 1865, 1875, 1878, 1888, 1894, and 1898, and on three or four occasions he was the first to detect it. In 1881 he discovered another comet, which became a fine object as it passed into the Northern Hemisphere, and is specially distinguished by being the first comet of which a satisfactory photograph was obtained and whose spectrum was satisfactorily studied.

Schaeberles Comet 1881 V. was independently discovered by Tebbutt.

More than 40 other comets, mostly strangers to our system, were observed by Mr. Tebbutt, and followed night after night from the earliest opportunity to the last degree of visibility, determining for each a series of accurate positions, which were employed by him or by other astronomers for the computation of the orbits of these bodies. These observations often extended over several weeks — sometimes months. The comet discovered in America [pg.353] by Brooks, in 1892, was kept under observation at Windsor on 62 nights ; the Coddington Pauly Comet of 1898, for 103 nights ; and Halleys Comet, on 21 nights—from December, 1909 to July, 1910. In 1912 he made micrometric measures of Gales Comet on nine nights.

From 1862 to 1906 he published 35 papers on Comets in the Monthly Notices of the R.A.S. ; 73 papers in the A.N. ; 18 in the Observatory ; 5 in the B.A.A.; 2 in Transactions of the Philosophical Society of New South Wales.

Such is Mr. Tebbutts share of Australia—s contribution to cometary astronomy.

Next in order on the initial programme of the Windsor Observatory come the Lunar Occultations of Stars. Systematic observations of this class were commenced in 1864 and were continued till 1904, and form part of the regular work of every year of this period, with very few exceptions. Between the years 1896 and 1900, 435 occultations were observed. This will give some idea of Mr. Tebbutts activity in this branch.

His results of these observations have been widely utilised by astronomers in investigations of longitudes by absolute methods.

Tebbutts results of occultations observed in the years 1864-1870 were in 1896 employed by Dr. Hugo Clemens, in a determination of the longitude of the Windsor Observatory, and formed the material for an inaugural dissertation entitled Bestimmung der Ldnge von Windsor, New South Wales, etc.

Similar results obtained from observations of the years 1873-1876 were used by Dr. Auwers in conjunction with those observed at Melbourne in 1874 and 1875, for the purpose of obtaining a fundamental meridian for Australia by absolute methods.

The longitude of Windsor, derived from Tebbutts observations has the following values, viz. :—

Clemens, by observations of occultations, 1864-1870 — 10h. 3m. 21.25s.

Auwers, by observations of occultations, 1873-1876 — 10h. 3m. 20.60s.

By telegraphic methods — 10h. 3m. 19.87s.

The third item which forms a considerable part of the regular work of the Windsor Observatory, is the systematic observation of the phenomena of Jupiters satellites.

Records of this work are found in (at least) 25 different years.

The Windsor observations of jovian eclipses from 1894 to 1899 were employed by Professor J. A. C. Oudemans, of Utrecht, in 1906, in his investigation on the mutual occultations and eclipses of the satellites of Jupiter in 1908.

The record of Mr. Tebbutts work on variable stars consists chiefly of systematic observations of the well-known southern variables η Argus and R Carinae.

η Argus was kept under observation every year from 1864 to 1876, and from 1880 to 1890, in which last year, according to Mr. Tebbutt, no further change was detected in its lustre.

R Carinae was also regularly observed in each year from 1880 to 1890, and also in 1895 and succeeding years till 1898. During the period 1880-1890, ten maxima were recorded.

This series has proved very valuable in the investigation of the secular inequalities of the star. [pg.354]

The Windsor observations of double stars commenced in 1880. After 1887, when the larger instrument (the Grubb 8-inch refractor) was used, special attention was directed to the interesting southern binaries — α Centauri, γ Centauri, and η Corona Australis, and to difficult southern pairs.

A large amount of other astronomical observations of a miscellaneous character must be credited to Mr. Tebbutt. Among these the more noteworthy are the transit of Venus of 1874, which was successfully observed at Windsor, and several transits of Mercury.

Many Lunar and Solar eclipses were observed by him, and his comparisons of the major planets and a score of the minor planets with neighbouring stars are very valuable.

In 1855, Mr. Francis Abbott, another enthusiastic amateur, was entering the field of observational astronomy in Tasmania. He erected a small observatory at Hobart, and provided it with a portable transit instrument of 24 inches focal length by Varley, and an achromatic telescope of 3½ inches aperture by Cooke and Son, and commenced observations for local time and; observations on comets and variable stars. Later he improved his equipment by procuring a larger transit instrument by Dallmeyer, and an excellent telescope of 4¼ inches aperture and 5 feet focal length by Dallmeyer, equatorially mounted. These he imported in 1862. A Dollond, 7-feet equatorial came into use soon after.

He was provided with a micrometer, a spectroscope, a standard clock, and a chronometer, and batteries of eyepieces ranging in power from 25 to 450.

He appears to have continued time determinations, for the benefit of himself and of the community, for a number of years, and his observations on comets and on the variable star η Argus are very numerous.

From 1861 to 1874 he contributed about thirteen papers to Monthly Notices, which included observations of Comets 1861 II., 1862 II., and 1865 I., this last comet having been discovered by him one day before Moesta discovered it at Santiago (19) (20). Observations of the transit of Mercury of 12th November, 1861 and 4th November, 1868, and many observations of the variable star η Argus.

Criticisms on these latter observations by Herschel, Airy, Lassell, Proctor, and others are published in Monthly Notices, Vol.31 and 32.

He also contributed some twenty papers to the Proceedings of the R.S. of Tasmania in the years 1863-1874.

Mr. Abbott died in February, 1883.

Tebbutt and Abbott are the earliest systematic observers in the history of amateur astronomy in Australia.

In this place the name of Ludwig Becker may be recorded as the observer who produced valuable drawings of the Donati Comet, 1858, which he made by means of an equatorial, forming part of the equipment of Neumayers Magnetic Observatory, at Flagstaff Hill, Melbourne. These fine drawings are published in the Transactions of the Philosophical Institute (afterwards the Royal Society) of Victoria, Vol.4, 1859.

The transit of Venus of 1874 gave the opportunity to several amateur observers in various parts of Australia to bring their work into public notice. Among these appear the names of T.D. Smeaton, F.C. Singleton, [pg.355] A. W. Dobbie. The first two observed the transit at Adelaide, with small equatorials of 3½ and 3 inches aperture, and the third, with an 8½-inch reflector. Memoirs R.A.S., Vol.47, 1882-3.

Mr. Dobbie, although his astronomical work was of an occasional character, for many years maintained a keen interest in astronomy. He was one of the observing members of the Mars section of the British Astronomical Association, and constructed his own reflecting telescopes. He completed one 18 inches aperture in 1905.

Two well-known observers who commenced astronomical work in the early seventies are the late Mr. W.J. MacDounell and Mr. G.D. Hirst.

Mr. MacDonnell was residing at Port Macquarie in 1871. He had an observatory there equipped with a 6-inch achromatic equatorial by Grubb, of Dublin, with which he made observations for a few years. Later he moved to Sydney, where, up to the time of his death, on 22nd September, 1910, he assiduously continued his astronomical observations with a 4¾−inch achromatic telescope by Parkes, of Binningham, an excellent instrument, equatorially mounted and driven by clockwork.

He observed the transit of Venus of 1874, as a member of one of the official parties stationed at Eden, under the Rev. Mr. Scott, once Director of the Sydney Observatory.

He was one of the observers of the Jupiter section of the British Astronomical Association up to the time of his death, and contributed several papers and notes to the Journal and Memoirs of that association, on Jupiter, on Halleys Comet, occultations and other subjects of a more general astronomical interest.

Mr. G. D. Hirst, of Sydney, is noted for his remarkable skill in astronomical drawings. He has been a member of the observing sections of Jupiter and Mars of the British Astronomical Association, and several of his beautiful drawings of these planets have been reproduced in the Memoirs of the Association.

The Director of the Mars observing section — M. Antoniadi, referring in one of his reports to the work of Mr. Hirst, says The drawings of Mr. Hirst are coloured and represent the general appearance of the Planet (Mars) more faithfully than any others received during the apparition. (1905) Memoirs B.A.A., Vol.XVII., Part II.

Mr. Hirst used an achromatic telescope by Cooke, equatorially mounted, object glass 4½-inch aperture.

His work extends over a period of 40 years, and includes, in addition to studies of surface detail of Jupiter and Mars at several oppositions, observations of comets and double stars, the results of which, or of most of them, have been published in the Journal and Memoirs of the B.A.A. and in the Journal and Proceedings of the R.S. of New South Wales, to which societies he has contributed also various papers and notes on other subjects.

Among the private citizens interested in Australian astronomy not previously mentioned, whose contributions to it, or valuable services rendered to, in the period 1880-1890, should be placed on record, are the following :—

In Tasmania, A.B. Biggs ; in Victoria, Dr. Bone, David Ross, James Oddie ; In Queensland, J.E. Davidson ; In New South Wales H.F. Madsen, H. Watt, and H. Corbett. [pg.356]

The late Mr. Biggs was a judicious and ingenious observer, and some of his observing instruments and apparatus were made by himself. On the occasion of the transit of Venus of 1874, the assistance of Mr. Biggs was very highly appreciated by the observing party from the United States, at Campbelltown, in overcoming instrumental difficulties. The principal instrument with which he made his observations, especially in the years of his greater activity— 1883−1887 —was a reflecting telescope with mirror 8½ inches diameter.

He employed also a refractor of 3-inch aperture, and was provided with a sidereal clock, a chronometer, a small direct vision spectroscope by Browning, and other minor apparatus.

His subjects of observation were chiefly comets. The results of his work were published in the Monthly Notices of the R.A.S., Vol.45, pp.348 and 376.

He also contributed thirteen papers, bearing on astronomy, to the Proceedings of the R.S. of Tasmania, from 1884 to 1891.

The late Dr. Bone built a private observatory on his grounds at Castlemaine, Victoria, where in 1881 he installed an equatorial telescope with achromatic object glass 8-inch aperture, by Grubb, of Dublin, an excellent instrument, provided with all requisites for fine astronomical work. He had this instrument mounted and in working order just in time for the transit of Venus of 1882, which he observed successfully. He had planned a useful programme of work for himself, which, however, was not to be carried out, for he died very shortly after.

But his telescope was destined to do good work for many years after him, in the hands of Mr. John Tebbutt, at the Windsor Observatory, by whom the instrument was bought.

Mr. David Ross, of Melbourne, in 1883, while watching the heavens for the expected periodical comet of Pons, discovered a small southern comet (1883 II.) His instrument was a small portable 3-inch achromatic telescope mounted on a short tripod. Later he constructed for himself a 6-inch reflecting telescope of the Newtonian type, which he mounted equatorially. He has employed it systematically during all these years, chiefly searching for comets ; and in 1906, he made his second discovery of Comet 1906 II.

In 1887, Mr. James Oddie had erected at his own cost an observatory at Mount Pleasant, Ballarat, Victoria, which he equipped with various apparatus, chiefly reflecting telescopes locally constructed.

He engaged the services of the late Captain Baker, who at the time had become favourably known for his skill in making parabolic reflectors, and placed him in charge of the observatory.

A mirror 26 inches in diameter was completed by Captain Baker in 1891, which was mounted equatorially as a Newtonian telescope driven by clockwork. Another 12-inch Newtonian telescope was also mounted.

The observatory was provided with a small transit telescope, astronomical clock, and accessories.

The instruments were well housed in spacious wooden buildings which contained in addition to other apartments, a large lecture room.

In 1888, Mr. Oddie imported an excellent equatorial telescope with object glass 9 inches clear aperture and 135 inches focal length by Grubb, of Dublin, which, however, was never taken out of its packing cases. [pg.357]

This is the instrument which, in 1910, was presented by Mr. Oddie to the Commonwealth Government and subsequently erected at the Mount Stromlo Observatory in the Federal territory.

Mr. Oddies observatory at Mount Pleasant, was chiefly intended for the education and entertainment of the public of Ballarat, and no astronomical work of a systematic character was ever done there. The observatory was dismantled in 1910.

On 21st July, 1889, Mr. J. Ewen Davidson, of Mackay, Queensland, made the discovery of Comet 1889 IV. by means of one of the telescopes used by the British Expedition under Captain Morris, E.E., for the observation of the transit of Venus, in December, 1882, at Jimbour, Queensland, and sold afterwards to Mr. Norris, of Townsville.

Several amateur makers of reflecting telescopes were very active during this decade, and contributed considerably to foster astronomical interest. These are—

E.W. Wigmore and R. Shafer, of Melbourne ; Dobbie, of Adelaide ; his own telescopes in 1882 when he was still a school boy, and H.F. Madsen, of New South Wales ; and others less well known.

Mr. H. F. Madsens paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, upon the construction of a reflecting telescope of 18 inches aperture is a valuable contribution to the subject.

In later years, and up to the present time, we find the number of amateur observers and persons interested in the advancement of Australian astronomy gradually and widely increasing, and there are among them several names which have gained distinction through the value of their work.

Messrs. R.T.A. Innes and C.J. Merfield were at one time serving enthusiastically in the ranks of amateur astronomers in New South Wales — Innes till 1896, when he left Australia to take up an official position under Dr. Gill, at the Cape Observatory ; and Merfield, till 1905, when he joined the Sydney Observatory. The work of these men, which was done in their amateur days, should be noted here.

Innes used a refractor of 6½-inch aperture, and a Newtonian reflector, with a mirror of 16 inches diameter, and carried on observations of variable stars and double stars ; some of his results were published in the Monthly Notices of the R.A.S.− and in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association. List of probable new double stars, and Occultation of Antares, 1894, 31st October, Monthly Notices, Vol.55 ; on the proper motion of Lacaille, 4336, Monthly Notices, Vol.56; new double stars, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Vol.6; observations made at Sydney in 1895; and observations of variable stars, 1895-96 ; and order of brightness of the 1st magnitude stars. Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Vol.6, etc.

Innes contributed also papers on the secular perturbations of the Earths orbit by Mars, Monthly Notices, Vol. 52 ; the secular perturbations of the Earth arising from the action of Venus, Monthly Notices, Vol.53 ; elements of Comet 1894 (Gale, 1st April), A.N. 3231 ; Table to facilitate the application of Gausss method of computing secular perturbations, Monthly Notices of the R.A.S., Vol.154, and other writings. [pg.358]

Merfield employed a refractor of 6¼-inch aperture by Cooke, equatorially mounted ; a reflector, equatorially mounted, mirror 7 inches diameter ; a small transit circle, with object glass 2¼ inches aperture ; chronometers ; and a tape chronograph.

With this equipment he conducted systematic observations for several years, chiefly on coloured stars and comets.

Most of the astronomical data for the use of observers in New South Wales on special events, such as predictions of occultations, elements and ephemeris of newly discovered comets, ephemeris of expected periodical comets, times and explanatory notes of eclipses of the sun and of the moon, and other celestial phenomena of public interest were prepared very frequently by Innes, and later, from 1894 to 1905, very regularly and almost entirely by Merfield.

Gravitational astronomy was, however, the work in which Merfield was particularly interested, and to which he devoted most of the time he could spare from his ordinary daily occupation.

Amongst the most important of his papers on this and allied subjects, the following may be mentioned :— Definitive orbit elements of comet 1898 VII. ; Definitive orbit elements of comet 1899 I. ; Definitive orbit elements of comet 1901 I. ; Secular perturbations of Eros arising from the actions of the eight major planets of the solar system ; Determination of the secular perturbations of minor planet Ceres, arising from the actions of the eight major planets of the solar system ; Secular perturbations of (7) Iris, arising from the actions of the eight major planets of the solar system; Secular perturbations of Ceres, arising from the action of Jupiter (with an important appendix on the co-efficients of the hyper-geometrical series F α β γ χ). Tables of the two hypergeometrical functions—F (1/6, 5/6, 2, sin2 i/2 ) and F (−1/6, 5/6, 2, sin2 i/2).

Walter F. Gale, one of the best known and most skilful observers of New South Wales, had been devoted to astronomical observations and the making of reflecting telescopes since 1882, but it was not till ten years later that he became possessed of a sufficiently suitable equipment for systematic work. In 1892, by means of an exquisitely defining reflecting telescope by With, of 8½ inches aperture, he made many observations, particularly of the planet Mars, which, with four drawings, were published in the Journal and Memoirs of the British Astronomical Association. This observer was the first, it appears, to note the delicate markings now known as the oases of Mars, as recorded by Flammarion and Antoniadi. In 1893 he observed the total eclipse of the sun at Mina Bronces, in Chile, and has since chased three other solar eclipses, but each time met with adverse weather conditions.

He also devoted much attention to Jupiter and his Galilean satellites, several hundreds of observations of which are published in the Memoirs of the B.A.A.

Mr. Gale has independently discovered six comets, two of which bear his name, namely :— Gale 1894 II., and Gale 1912a.

Comet 1888 I., Sawerthal, was found by him independently only one day after Sawerthal had discovered it at the Cape, and the other three comets proved to be returns of periodical comets — Fabry 1886 I., Winnecke 1892 TV., and Tempel2 1894. [pg.359]

He also discovered several double stars and a ring nebula.

Notes upon these discoveries were published in the Astronomische Nachrichten, in the Monthly Notices of the R.A.S., and other journals.

Perhaps the best service rendered to Australian astronomy by Mr. Gale was the part he took in conjunction with Innes in forming the New South Wales branch of the British Astronomical Association.

This branch was constituted in September, 1894, when it consisted of thirteen members, namely :− John Tebbutt, R.T.A. Innes, W.F. Gale, G.H. Knibbs, C.J. Merfield, H. Wright. G. Butterfield. C Mathews, F.D. Edmonds. R.D. Lewers, J.W. Askew, T.W. Craven, and C.C. Carter. It made rapid progress and its roll of members gradually increased.

In 1895, a special section for the observation of coloured stars was first formed, with Merfield as director and two observers, namely — H. Wright, who employed a reflecting telescope of 8½ inches aperture ; and F.K. McDonall, with a 21/8/−in. refractor; Merfield himself using a 7-in. reflector. Upwards of 5,000 observations were made of 458 stars in accordance with a carefully planned programme, which was completed in the years 1895-97. The results of this work are published in Vol.VI., No.9, and Vol.VIII., No.1 of the Journal B.A.A.

In 1897 special observing sections were formed as follow:&8212;Comet section Director, John Tebbutt ; Jupiter section —Director, W.F. Gale ; Sun and Meteors —Director, F.K. McDonall.

The first president of the branch was Mr. John Tebbutt, in which office he was followed by G.H. Knibbs, the present Commonwealth Statistician, who in the year 1900 prepared a paper on The Suns motion in Space, which was published in the Proceedings of the R.S. of New South Wales, Vol.XXXIV. It contains the history and bibliography of the subject from Giordano Bruno (1584) to Kobold (1900), and is qualified by the author as a step preliminary to a further consideration of the whole question, which however, his subsequent official duties prevented him from carrying out.

The paper, which bears clear evidence of a vast amount of careful research renders a complete account of the state of knowledge on the subject existing up to the year 1900, and forms an astronomical contribution of great value.

The third president (Session 1899-1900) was the Rev. Dr. Roseby, a fluent writer on astronomical subjects, and more particularly interested in gravitational astronomy. The elliptic elements of Gale Comet 1894b, were computed by him.

Subsequent occupants of the chair were W.F. Gale, W.J. MacDonnell, G.D. Hirst, and C.J. Merfield, whose work has already been separately referred to, and next to these come H. Wright (1907-1909), J. Nangle (1909-1911), and again the Rev. Dr. Roseby (1911-1913).

Mr. H. Wright has for a long time been devoted to astronomical observations, for which he uses a reflecting telescope of the Newtonian type, by Browning, 8½ inches aperture equatorially mounted. Amongst the papers published in the Journal of the Association, containing the results of his work are the following :−

Double star observations and observations of meteors. Vol.VI. ;

Daylight occultation of Antares, Vol.VII. ;

Chambers catalogue of red stars, Vol.XI. ;

Some southern nebulae and the trapezium of Orion, Vol.XII. ;

Comet Moorehouse 1908e, Vol.XIX. [pg.360]

He is a member of the Jupiter and Mars observing sections, and a number of his drawings and observations of these planets, also of Saturn and Halleys Comet, have been published in the Memoirs of the B.A.A. At one opposition of Mars there were only three southern observers, and his contribution carried considerable value and was highly appreciated. He has observed and sketched sun spots and solar prominences, and published several papers on astronomical subjects of a more general interest.

James Nangle is another practical observer of considerable merit and the possessor of a first-class achromatic telescope, by Cooke and Sons, of 6½−in. aperture, mounted equatorially and driven by clockwork, which had been used by Innes when a resident of Sydney.

The instrument is housed in a well-built and commodious observatory, where work is being done with efficiency and comfort.

The nature of his observations and the subjects in which he is more particularly interested are shown by his published results in the Journal of the Association, some of which I note here.

Double star measures. Vols.XVII. and XXI.

Measures of α Centauri, Vol.XIX.;

Measures of p Eridani, Lacaille 2145, Vols. XIX. and XX. ;

Provisional orbits of p Eridani and h 5014, Vols. XIX. ; and XXI. ;

Orbit of β Muscae, Vol.XX. ;

Cluster about κ Crucis, Vols.XIX. and XVIII. ;

Saturn’s diameter. Vol. XVIII. ;

Occultations of θ Librae and Uranus, Vol.XVIII.

The New South Wales branch of the B.A.A. is still in full working activity.

Of the total number of 76 Australian members of the parent association, more than one half belong to this branch.

Mr. E.H. Beattie, the present secretary, is also a contributor to the advancement of Australian amateur astronomy. He has a good observatory, equipped with an excellent equatorial refractor by Grubb, 6¼ inches aperture, driven by clockwork, and provided with all the accessories required for micrometric measurements. His principal observations are — occultation phenomena of Jupiters satellites, double stars, comets, eclipses and occultations of stars and planets by the moon.

The results of his work, as well as his reports of work done by the branch generally, to the parent association have been and are being regularly published in the Journal of the B.A.A.

Mr. T. H. Close renders good service by computing comets orbits and lunar occultations by graphical methods, and furnishing such data to those interested.

Other members of this branch figure in the Journal and Memoirs of the Association as members of some particular observing section, and as contributors of astronomical papers, notes, or drawings. These are J.E. Bell (Solar Section), H. Brown (Comet Halley), R.H. Bulkeley (Comet Halley), A.B. Cobham (Jupiter and Mars), the late Dr. R.D. Givin (Jupiter, Mars, and the Sun), Gr. H. Hoskins (Mars), J.C. Jenkinson (Auroral and Zodiacal light), F.K. McDonall (Meteors), D Shearer (Mars), Rev. W. Swindlehurst, P. Chauleur, Captain Edmonds, and Mr. N.J. Basnett, who specializes in meridian observations for the accurate determination of time.

For the published results of the above observers, see list in Appendix. [pg.361]

In 1897, a branch of the British Astronomical Association was formed in Victoria, and the attempt was made to encourage the possessors of astronomical telescopes to undertake systematic observations with them. The principal names of those who worked energetically in organising and afterwards struggling to set the branch in working order are those of —

R.W. Wigmore, the late Professor Kernot, Dr. E.F.J. Love, C Oliver. M.C.E., T.W. Fowler, M.C.E., Professor Barnard, Mrs. Rose Whiting, David Ross, and George Smale.

The inaugural meeting of the branch took place on the 16th December, 1897, under the presidency of the late R.L.J. Ellery, who held office till the year 1900, the chair being successively occupied after him by the Rev. John Meiklejohn, Dr. Love, Professor Kernot, and Professor Barnard.

R.W. Wigmore was secretary for the period (1897-1900), David Ross (1900-1901), and George Smale (1901-1905).

The difficulty which prevented the sound development of this branch and eventually caused its extinction at the end of 1905, was the failure to induce a sufficient number of its members to use their telescopes for some definite astronomical purpose, and in accordance with a suitably prep red plan.

Professor Barnard has been for many years interested in the observation of variable stars. He is at present in charge of a small observatory recently erected at the Royal Military College of the Commonwealth, on the summit of Mount Pleasant, near the Federal capital site.

The observatory is provided with an equatorial refractor, by Cooke and Sons, of 4½ inches aperture, and a portable transit instrument, and it is expected that Professor Barnard will be able to continue there regular observations on variable stars.

The object of this observatory is principally educational.

There is only one other State of the Commonwealth at present in which an Astronomical Society exists. This is South Australia.

The Astronomical Society of South Australia is intimately associated with the Adelaide Observatory. Until the end of 1906, it held its meetings at the Observatory, and although at present the members meet in another building, the Observatory instruments are still at their disposal, and in fact, the present director states the observations of variable and double stars have now been commenced by certain members of the local Astronomical Society, the equatorial telescope of the Observatory being used for this purpose.

This society dates back to the year 1892, when as a section of the Royal Society of South Australia, it held its first meeting at the Adelaide Observatory, on the 5th April of that year, under the presidency of the late Sir Charles Todd.

The annual reports of the society show a considerable number of persons (40 or more) who have at some period been interested in astronomy, and among them there are several whose writings on astronomical subjects appeal in the Transactions of the society. (For the principal titles and references to these works, see Appendix B.) It does not appear, however, that astronomical observations of a systematic character have been made by any observer in South Australia for the object of carrying out a continuous and well-defined [pg.362] astronomical programme, though Mr. Sydney Manning, of McLaren Vale, has contributed observational notes on comets and the Kappa Crucis cluster to the Journal of the B.A.A.

There are no records of astronomical results obtained by amateur astronomers in Queensland and Western Australia, with the exception of those registered in the papers given in the Appendix.


Last Update : 18th October 2014

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