Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Saturday June 30, 1894

Released the three clips pressing down crown lens of 28in O.G. as there was some suspicion of strain and put double thickness of blotting paper in addition to the cartridge paper under each.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

Monday, 29 June 2009

Friday June 29, 1894

The Chronometer Room, from E. Walter Maunder, 'The Royal Observatory, Greenwich: a Glance at its History and Work' (1900)Capt. Tizard & Mr Sadler came down for annual stocktaking of chrons & deckwatches. All found right.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

RH says..... As described in an earlier post, the testing of chronometers took up a great deal of staff time. It was work done directly for the Royal Navy which, since the Observatory was also run by the Admiralty, they were not in a position to refuse - although they did use it as a bargaining point. This illustration shows the Observatory's Chronometer Room, where the rate of the instruments was checked - i.e. their regular running, whether fast or slow. Another room included an oven in order to check their performance under hot conditions. This room, in the Great Equatorial Building that houses the 28-inch telescope, is now the office of the National Maritime Museum's Curator of Horology.
Captain Tizard, mentioned in this entry, was Assistant Hydrographer of the Navy and had been made a Fellow of the Royal Society on the strength of his work and publications on hydrographic surveying. Most importantly he had commanded HMS Challenger during its important scientific expedition of 1872-76 and, over the next three years, had written the narrative of the voyage. The NMM's archive holds some lovely sketches by Tizard of his shipmates aboard Challenger.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Capt. Close R.N. discussed plans for a timeball at Chatham. Anniversary dinner of R.S. Club.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

RH says..... The Royal Observatory's time ball was installed in 1833 in order to give a visual time signal to ships on the Thames. This allowed them to check the chronometers they used - along with the astronomical lunar distance method - to find their longitude at see. The mechanism still works: the ball rising half-way up the pole at 12.55, to the top at 12.58 and dropping at 1pm. With the arrival of telegraphic time signals from Greenwich in the mid 19th century, other time balls were set up at various ports, including Deal, Southampton, Chatham and Falmouth. The archives in Cambridge show that these prompted much correspondence for Christie.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Wednesday June 27, 1894

Attending meeting of Catalogue Sub Comee for Astronomy at R.S. 4 p.m.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

RH says..... The International Catalogue of Scientific Literature was issued by the Royal Society in annual volumes from 1902 to 1916 - several of these volumes can be seen at Internet Archive. Three conferences held in London in 1896, 1898 and 1900 had established it as an international endeavour, with Bureau dedicated to its production all over the world. That in the US, for example, was based at the Smithsonian.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

A June Wedding

Frank Dyson in 1894 - detail of Royal Observatory Hockey Club 1893-94 photograph, © National Maritime Museum.RH says..... There is a long silence in the Chief Assistant's diary over summer 1894 as Frank Dyson was on his honeymoon. He married Caroline Bisset Best, better known as Carrie, on 20 June. It was to be a happy marriage, producing eight children - all of whom would later live in Flamsteed House when Frank became Astronomer Royal. In The Ninth Astronomer Royal, Dyson's daughter Margaret wrote: “Carrie was dressed in grey. She had two bridesmaids... The wedding was a quiet one, no guests having been invited except the two families and a few intimate friends.” The ceremony was performed by the groom's father, Rev Watson Dyson, at the Baptist Chapel in Carrie's home town, Louth, Lincolnshire.

The honeymoon was spent in Switzerland and "For a month Frank and Carrie walked and climbed", Carrie apparently impressing other guests with her prowess. In the evenings they read poetry aloud - apparently Frank was an admirer of Browning.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Friday June 22, 1894

Mr Crisp called to discuss arrangements for the new Buildings.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal
RH says..... The south wing of the Physical Observatory had been completed in April and Christie was hoping to press on with the completion of the dome (to hold the Thompson telescopes) above the central portion (known as the 'Museum', or instrument store) and begin work on the north wing (which would house his own office). Work was also about to start on the Altazimuth Pavilion. Christie did his best to stress to the Admiralty the importance of continuing work, highlighting the need to be ready to receive Thompson's generous gift and the danger that prolonged building work would put Observatory business at risk. At the June Visitation he explained that “A number of the moveable instruments are now being arranged in the glass cases in the Museum, or set up in the South wing as a preliminary to the completion of the inventory, but the work cannot be satisfactorily finished till the North wing is completed, as the building operations greatly hamper the arrangements."

Monday, 22 June 2009

Wednesday June 20, 1894

The astrographic telescope at Greenwich, c.1904 © Science Museum / Science & Society / NMMArranged with Desforges (from Troughton & Simms) for mounting of new glass millimetre scale in Astrographic micrometer.

Dined with Dyers’ Company at the “Ship” returning thanks for the Visitors.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Saturday June 16 to Tuesday June 19, 1894

Went to Broadstairs (for Sandwich) this afternoon returning to the Obsy on Wednesday morning.
William Christie, Astronomer Royal
RH says..... A bit of rest and relaxation required after the stresses of the Visitation?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Thursday June 14, 1894

Mr Hancock Supet of Telegraphs Western Australia examined arrangements for Earth current registers, which he proposes to start on two long lines of telegraph in Western Australia. Discussed the question with him & suggested that magnetic registers should also be taken. Saw Director of Works & Mr Crisp about new buildings, and also Mr Awdry.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Wednesday June 13, 1894

The uke of York in 1893: the future King George V.
Meeting of Solar Physics Comee at 2.30pm. Trinity House Dinner, Duke of York in the chair.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

RH says..... The Duke of York, pictured to the left, was the future king of England, George V.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Saturday June 9, 1894

Went on trip to mouth of Thames in H.M.S. “Havock” the new torpedo boat destroyer.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

H4799 Half-block model of HMS Havock, 1893, © NMM.

RH says..... The name of this ship is a little hard to read in the original Journal, but it is probably the HMS Havock, launched on 12 August 1893. This little jaunt of Christie's reminds us again of the link between the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and the Admiralty. The Havock was, apparently, broken up in 1912, largely because of problems with the bow torpedo tube which meant that she could outrun her own torpedos.
The Havock was the first of a new class of ships that were part of the massive five-year ship-building programme launched by the 1889 Naval Defence Act. Given that this allocated £21,500,000 to the Admiralty it is an interesting question whether the several thousands of pounds that Christie was requesting for his building works and telescopes was seen as an insignificant addition to their budgets or yet another burden. While Christie certainly had to work hard to get the money, it was, ultimately, forthcoming. Did the Admiralty and the British government believe that rival powers could be impressed by scientific success as well as military and naval might?

Monday, 8 June 2009

Friday June 8, 1894

R.A.S. Council meeting. Presided at R.S. Club dinner, Sir H. Thompson & Sir H. Trueman Wood guests.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

Thursday June 7, 1894

Royal Society election certificate for Francis Cranmer Penrose, copyright Royal Society of London. Went to meeting of R.S. Election of Fellows.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

RH says..... You can see copies of all the Royal Society election certificates - with the citation and signatures of all the proposers - via the RS archive catalogue. Those elected on this day were William Bateson, George Albert Boulenger, John Rose Bradford, Hugh Longbourne Callendar, William Watson Cheyne, Robert Edmund Froude, M.J.M. Hill, John Viriamu Jones, Augustus Edward Hough Love, Richard Lydekker, Francis Cranmer Penrose, Dunkinfield Henry Scott, Frederick John Smith, Joseph Wilson Swan (inventor of the incandescent light bulb) and Victor Huber Veley. This image shows the certificate for the architect, archaeologist and astronomer Francis Penrose, as Christie was one of the proposers, "from personal knowledge".

Thursday, 4 June 2009

June 1894

The altazimuth telescope designed by George Biddell Airy, from E. Walter Maunder's 'The Royal Observatory, Greenwich: a Glance at its History and Work' (1900).Mr Crommelin reported that the levels of the Altazimuth were very erratic. Mr Crommelin, Mr Niblett & I examined it. The top pivot & bearing of the central axis seemed worn & rusty. Reported it to the Astronomer Royal. – Pivot turned, & new bearings made by Messrs Troughton & Simms.

Frank Dyson, Chief Assistant

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Visitation Day: Saturday June 2, 1894

Visitation Day

Meeting of Board at 12 noon adjourning about 1.20 for lunch & inspection of Observatory meeting again 3.30 to 4.30.

351 Visitors including 47 ladies – too great a crowd. Former computers &c who ask for a card every year may be struck off next time. Plans of Obsy & Grounds?? On scale of the lithographed Plan in ‘Greenwich Observations’ to be prepared & put up in prominent posn with places of principal instruments &c marked. Arrangements to be made if possible to admit Visitors in batches only to Ball Lobby, Chronometer Room, Great Equatorial (staircase) & other places where there is likely to be a block. The Altaz. & Sheepshanks might be locked up, only visitors who specially ask to see these instrs being taken up there. More milk wanted for the chocolate, owing to increase in number of Visitors. Copies of Report to B of V. not received till 1.15. 50 advance copies should be supplied in future for use of B of V. at meeting at noon. Sir Ughtred K. Shuttleworth (Secy of Admy) went round Observatory.

Dinner at Criterion at 6.30. Only 26 present.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

Lithograph plan of the Royal Observatory and Grounds, c.1890, including sketch of an alternative proposal for the New Physical Observatory in the south of the site. CUL RGO 7/50 copyright and reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.

Visitation day: 300 visitors including 50 or 60 ladies. There was rather a crush on the staircase leading to the Great Equatorial. The Chronometer room was crowded most of the afternoon. At times the 28 Inch Dome, the Longitude Pavilion, & the new South Wing were crowded. Very few visited the Lassell Dome or the Sheepshanks Equatorial. 30 or 40 went up to the Altazimuth. It will be well to consider whether the doors of the Chronometer room and Great Equatorial had not better be shut when about a dozen people are in the room. The computer in charge of the Water Clock might see to this.

Frank Dyson, Chief Assistant

Monday, 1 June 2009

Wednesday May 30, 1894

Wires in finder of T.C. found broken by Messrs Simms’ Workmen. New ones inserted.

Frank Dyson, Chief Assistant
RH says..... These 'wires' were, of course, made of spider's web, which was strong but easy to dislodge. Spider thread was used until the 1960s and at least one former employee of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Herstmonceux remembers going out to the Sussex countryside to collect webs from the nearby hedgerows.