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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/729

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THE UNITED STATES NAVAL OBSERVATORY.

ent. With the exception of the equatorial and mural circle-observations, zone-observations, and several years' unpublished work of other observers, regular astronomical work did not receive the prominent attention demanded for the best interests of the observatory. In 1861 Lieutenant Maury left his position to join the cause of the Confederate States of the South.

Captain Gilliss succeeded to the office in 1861. His heart and hand were in the work. He published the volume of observations for

1861 promptly in 1862. He gave detailed statements of the volumes of observations he found unprepared for the press, took measures for their publication, for the regular and prompt issue of annual volumes from the observatory, and arranged that meteorological observations should form a part of each volume. The volume of observations for

1862 contained a discussion concerning the longitude of Washington; a paper on Comet II., 1862, with drawings of the comet during the period of greatest brilliancy; and a plate illustrating the appearance of Mars, near the opposition in that year. The special work for 1863 was an investigation of the solar parallax from observations on the planet Mars. Nearly 11,000 observations were made with four instruments during this year. A transit-circle was also contracted for to improve the defective equipment of the observatory. But, while the field was widening before him, and when neither of his three favorite aims had come to a successful issue, Captain Gilliss was suddenly removed by death, in 1865, from the scene of his labors.

Rear-Admiral Davis was placed in charge of the observatory in 1865. During the same year the great transit-circle was completed, and placed in position in the then west wing of the observatory. This constituted an era in its history, and raised it to a more fitting rank among institutions of its class. The volumes of observations for 1863 and 1864 were published in 1865 and 1866. The meteorological observations from 1842 to 1867 were fully discussed, a report was made on interoceanic canals and railroads, and the regular routine work was diligently kept up. In 1867 Rear-Admiral Davis was ordered to take command of the South-Atlantic Squadron.

In 1867 Rear-Admiral Sands became the fourth superintendent, and is the present incumbent of the office. Since that time the work has so greatly increased in all directions, and the progress of science demands such an amount of labor, that the limits of this article will permit only a brief mention of a few of the most important portions of the work accomplished. One of the recent publications of the observatory is a "Manual of its Founding and Progress," prepared by Prof. Nourse. We refer readers, who desire more extended information, to this able and exhaustive paper, to which we are indebted for our facts and suggestive information. Under the present superintendent, and his efficient and cooperative assistants, the observatory has gone steadily forward, enlarging its boundaries, and widening its field