Letter by H C Russell, 29 November 1890

Letter by H C Russell, 29 November 1890
Letter by H C Russell, 29 November 1890
Letter by H C Russell, 29 November 1890
Letter by H C Russell, 29 November 1890

Sydney Observatory
29th November 1870

My dear Sir

I am sorry that the late Astronomer did not do more for Astronomy than he did. But I think we are only doing him justice when we remember that he considered the Base Line one of the principal objects set before him to accomplish and the more so because Mr Airy laid so much stress upon it and however unfortunate he may have been in the management of the work especially in the time it occupied it was well done so far as it went and he devoted to it all the time he worked.

We need also to bear in mind that there were many difficulties in the way of such a work here which had no existence in Europe and that while at home they have thousands to spend he had only hundreds and time was often lost in doing things cheaply.

From the end of 1869 to the time of his death he was to [sic] ill to do any steady work and from January to May this year he had absolutely no funds at command to carry on the work of the Base Line.

From January 1st 1870 to July 12th when he died 236 transits were observed and the corrections determined as follows: ??, Collination – 39, Level?? – 20??, Azimuth – 12??

from July 12th to August 7th ?? I had no Computer and when he ?? he had no knowledge of Observatory work so I had of course to teach him. I had also to square of all Mr Smalley’s Government Accounts and hand over the Base Line to the Surveyor General which has involved me in a considerable amount of work in comparing measuring Bars &c so that I could not begin regular work with the large telescope until September 26th. I had however in the mean time carefully examined Saturn on many evenings to see if I could detect any new features but without success. I saw it however once square shouldered.

Previous to beginning any double star observations I took out the object glass and cleaned it thoroughly and when replacing it separated the the [sic] lenses about 1/20 part of an inch which has greatly improved the definitions and made it possible to measure bright stars with full aperture which I could not do before. I can now all on favourable occasions a power of 400 or even 500 a great advantage?? with many of the stars doubles. The work actually done is as follows September 26 to Nov 26th??

Measures of Position and Distance – 250
Double stars found and not identified with catalogue – 28
Sweeps for the purpose of finding new Stars – 15

Several stars in Herschell’s list I have not been able to find and some indicate considerable change since he observed them.

We have had so much cloudy weather that I have only had 23 nights of observations out of the 54 working nights since I began and several of these I had were interrupted by clouds. With the Transit Instrument we have had 560 Observations, 100 Collinations, 61 Levels, 49 Azimuths.

From July 12 to Novr 28th 1870 the work of the transit Instrument is (1) Moon culminations (2) Double Star positions (those I observe) and ?? Time Observations.

The necessary alterations to the cellar under the Transit Room have rendered the pier for part of the time somewhat unsteady but it has now been cemented and it is hoped will be more stable than ever.

The sweeps are taken from about 55 degrees south Declination to the pole with the clock going and the hour angle known in this way the sweep will overlap and it is hoped reveal all the double stars within reach of the telescopes.

I have sent home for and expect in a few weeks a spectroscope specially made for this Instrument by Mr Browning.

I have refrained from mentioning work not astronomical as I understand you do not want it and I have myself to write the Meteorological paper for the society.

Believe me
Yours very truly
H C Russell

J Tebbutt Esqre
The Peninsula