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Mapping the Stars at Melbourne Observatory
Image: Star Catalogue - Epoch 1870, Melbourne Observatory, 1874
Source: Museum Victoria
The task of mapping the southern skies was huge, and the astronomers at the observatories of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide all spent a considerable amount of their time doing positional astronomy and star mapping well into the 20th century.
In 1864 Melbourne Observatory joined a collaborative project with the observatories at Madras and Cape of Good Hope to map the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. Melbourne's task was to measure the right ascension and declination of every star from the 1st to the 10th magnitude of brightness, between the celestial parallels of 60 and 80 degrees south declination. Using a new transit instrument erected in the Second Transit Room, the assistant astronomer E. J. White and second assistant astronomer C. Moerlin began a huge series of observations. By 1871 they had observed the positions of nearly 50,000 stars.
There was no doubt that the work of the Melbourne Observatory was of a very high standard. When Ellery visited Britain for 12 months in 1875, the Astronomer Royal George Airy praised Ellery's work, stating publicly that the Melbourne Observatory had published the best catalogue of the stars of the southern hemisphere.
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Transit telescope with 8 inch aperture; 9 foot focal length, made by Troughton & Simms, London in 1883 and installed at Melbourne Observatory in July 1884. The telescope was ordered by ...From: London, United Kingdom Images: 1
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Three iron measuring rods used in the Geodetic Survey of Victoria in the 1860s. The measuring rods were used to measure accurately a base line of approximately 5 miles near Werribee. Di ...From: London, United Kingdom Images: 0
Eight day long-case astronomical regulator clock, by Charles Frodsham, London, No. 1062, 1865. Weight driven, with dead-beat escapement and mercury compensation pendulum. Used at Melbou ...From: London, United Kingdom Images: 3
Astronomical regulator clock designed by Government Astronomer Robert Ellery and built at Melbourne Observatory in 1888. The clock was probably made by Observatory instrument maker Carl ...From: South Yarra, Australia Images: 16
Portable transit telescope, 3.25 inch aperture, 42 inch focus, made by Troughton & Simms, London, circa 1850. This instrument was transferred from the Victorian Survey Department to Wi ...From: London, United Kingdom Images: 1