Historical Letters from Sydney Observatory
This collection comprises ten books containing 4,591 of pages of documents written primarily by the Government Astronomers who founded Sydney Observatory. These men were: William Scott (1825-1917), who held the position from 1858 to 1862; George Robarts Smalley (1822-1870), who held the position from 1864 to 1870; and Henry Chamberlain Russell (1836-1907), who held the position from 1870 to 1905.
The letters reveal a great deal about the beginnings of scientific enquiry in the colony of New South Wales. They demonstrate the key role the Government Astronomer held in mapping the southern sky and establishing meteorological observation stations around the colony, and organising the first triangulation and magnetic surveys – with transport of instruments by ship and dray.
There are also many routine administrative letters, such as those seeking permission to spend money on various scientific instruments, books, and other items which illustrate the kinds of instruments sought by the Observatory and the costs of items over time. Included are letters to the Smithsonian, to the Astronomer Royal, and replies to questions from the public. There is a rich vein of letters to the Colonial Architect seeking (and often tenaciously pursuing) improvements and repairs to the buildings and grounds.
By appointment - Sydney Observatory
A selection of over 300 of these letters were transcribed and posted on the Sydney Observatory Blog in 2008/2009.
Astronomy; Correspondence; Meteorology; Sydney Observatory
George Robarts Smalley; Henry Chamberlain Russell; William Scott
Observatory Hill, New South Wales, Australia