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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/713

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SKETCH OF JAMES CRAIG WATSON.

solar eclipse at Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and, in 1870, to Carlantini, Sicily, for a similar purpose. In 1874 he was appointed to the charge of an expedition to Peking, China, to observe the transit of Venus. His observations were favored by the weather, and conducted with consummate skill. The results, though reduced and discussed, are not yet published. Even at the antipodes, fresh discoveries awaited him. He had already raised his list of planetary discoveries to seventeen, and now added Juewa, the eighteenth. In 1876 he was one of the Judges of Awards at the Centennial Exposition, and wrote the celebrated "Report on Horological Instruments." In 1878 also appeared his "Tables for the Calculation of Simple and Compound Interest," a work which, in spite of the subject, is marked by great originality, and demanded a vast amount of wearisome labor. The same year he was sent by the General Government in charge of an expedition to Wyoming, to observe the total solar eclipse. Professor Watson, having long entertained a belief in the existence of an intra-Mercurial planet, as well as of an extra-Neptunian one, gave special attention at this time to a search for the former, and was the first astronomer to note certainly (July 29, 1878) the existence and position of the planet Vulcan. He also satisfied himself of the existence of a second intra Mercurial planet. This brought the number of his original planetary discoveries to twenty-six (including one lost July 29, 1873, and two anticipated). He was now animated by an intense desire to control instruments of suitable power and adjustment to confirm his last observations, and enable him to detect the outlying planet beyond Neptune. Coincidently came the invitation to assume the charge of the Washburne Observatory at Madison, Wisconsin, which was to be improved and newly equipped with instruments far more efficient than those at Ann Arbor. The temptation was great, but he naturally clung to his alma mater, whose authorities made such efforts as they thought authorized to content their astronomer. But the requisite means could only be obtained by a grant from the Legislature, a measure defeated by an inadequate appreciation of the honor shed upon the State by such a name as Watson's. Reluctantly, but sustained by a high and noble aspiration, he removed, in the summer of 1879, to Madison, and immediately devoted himself with intense energy to remodeling the observatory structure, and introducing some original provisions thought to be suited to the special researches on which he was bent. A cellar twenty feet deep was sunk at the bottom of the first slope of Observatory Hill. Into this, light was to be thrown through a long tube, from powerful reflectors on the top of the hill. This, with other accessory work, was actually in progress, when a severe cold brought on peritonitis, which over-confidence in his physical powers permitted to reach a fatal stage before medical aid was summoned. His remains, accompanied by an escort from the University of Wisconsin, were removed to Ann Arbor, where they lay in