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  • 85/1497 Crucibles (6), ceramic, used at Sydney Observatory workshop, maker unknown
  • 85/1498 Ladles (2), (metallurgists), iron, used at Sydney Observatory workshop, maker unknown, c 1950
  • 85/1499 Pit saw, steel blade, wooden handle, used at Sydney Observatory workshop, maker unknown, 1950-1960
  • 85/1500 Pitch-fork, (garden or hay), used at Sydney Observatory workshop, 1930-1950
  • Two rain gauge measuring cylinders.
    85/1913 Rain gauges (2), measuring cylinders, glass, made by Angelo Tornaghi, used at Sydney Observatory, New South Wales, Australia, 1861-1900
  • 85/1914 Sieve, cylindrical, copper, used at Sydney Observatory workshop, [Australia]
  • 85/1915 Funnel, conical, ceramic, size 6 (or 9), used at Sydney Observatory workshop, [1930-1950]
  • 85/1916 Mortar & pestle, ceramic, used at Sydney Observatory workshop, made in [England]
  • 85/1917 Cylinder, glass, graduated, used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1918 Cylinder, glass, graduated, stoppered, used at Sydney Observatory, Australia, 20th century
  • 85/1919 Measuring vessel, possibly rain gauge, glass with spout, used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1920 Tubing (2 pieces), chemical glassware, used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1921 Watch glasses (2), used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1922 Test tube, fused silica, used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1923 Tube, sealed glass, containing liquid, used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1924 Glass discharge tube, used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1925 Discharge tubes (3), glass, (containing powders), used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1926 Vessels (5), glass, handblown, used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1927 Filter flask, glass, used at Sydney Observatory, Crown, Australia
  • 85/1928 Boiling flasks (2), glass, used at Sydney Observatory
  • 85/1929 Funnel & filter chamber, porcelain/glass, used at Sydney Observatory, Buchner's, Japan/England
  • 85/1930 Roentgen tubes (2), X-ray, used at Sydney Observatory, Newton & Co, London, England


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



Coverage Spatial

Observatory Hill, New South Wales, Australia

Coverage Temporal



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2012-05-30 23:42

2011-03-31 16:12