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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/213

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

MARCH, 1915




ASTRONOMY ON THE PACIFIC COAST
By Professor RUSSELL TRACY CRAWFORD

THIS subject brings instantly to the mind's eye the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, and the Solar Observatory on Mount Wilson, as they are two of the greatest astronomical observatories in the world, and probably the best generally known of all. The one is an asset of the Pacific coast, probably accidentally, the other was placed there as a result of mature deliberation after thorough investigation of many locations. In addition to these two wonderful institutions there is in process of construction a third great observatory near Victoria, B. C, which, when completed, will contain the second largest reflecting telescope in the world. It is evident, therefore, that conditions on this coast are extremely favourable for developing the practical side of astronomy. On the other hand, the theoretical side of the subject is by no means to be lost sight of, as I shall point out.

In the early days before the erection of the Lick Observatory, the only astronomical work on the Pacific Coast was that done by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey under the able direction of the late Professor George Davidson. This was not astronomical work as such, but merely the solving of such astronomical practical problems as were incident to the regular work of the survey. The first real scientific astronomical investigations came with the advent of the Lick Observatory.

This institution is the gift of James Lick, a California pioneer, who had amassed a fortune of several million dollars.

On July 16, 1874, he executed a deed of trust which devoted the entire sum to public purposes.

Among the provisions of the deed is one that directed the trustees

to expend the sum of seven hundred thousand dollars for the purpose of constructing. . . a powerful telescope, superior to and more powerful than any telescope ever yet made, with all the machinery appertaining thereto. . . .

He left the trustees certain discretionary powers as to its location