Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/93

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83
ASTRONOMY IN AMERICA.

building was erected was quarried from the grounds of the society. The lime was burned on the hill, and every means was adopted to reduce unnecessary expenditure. Payment for stock was received in every possible article of trade; due-bills were taken, and these were converted into others which would serve in the payment of bills. In this way the building was reared, and finally covered in, without incurring any debt. But the conditions of the bond by which the lot of ground was held required the completion of the observatory in June, 1845. It was seen to be impossible to carry forward the building fast enough to secure its completion by the required time without incurring some debt. "My own private resources," proceeds Mitchel, "were used in the hope that a short time after the finishing of the observatory would be sufficient to furnish the funds to meet all engagements. The work was pushed rapidly forward. In February, 1845, the great telescope safely reached the city; and in March the building was ready for its reception." Unfortunately, just at this time, when his private means were exhausted, Prof. Mitchel's professorship was brought, in a very summary manner, to a temporary close, in consequence of the college edifice being burned to the ground. To recruit his means without abandoning the cause of astronomy, he gave courses of lectures in the chief cities of the United States, meeting with well-deserved success.

The observatory thus erected achieved useful though not very striking results. An observatory which was erected a year or two later took so quickly the leading position, so far as the actual study of the heavenly bodies was concerned, that the progress of the Cincinnati astronomers, as indeed of most of the astronomers of the United States, received less attention than otherwise might have been the case. I refer to the observatory at Harvard (Cambridge, Massachusetts). Here one of the first equatorials ever made by Merz was erected; and by means of it W. C. Bond, and his son, George P. Bond, made highly interesting additions to astronomical knowledge. The seventh satellite of Saturn (eighth and last in order of discovery) was detected, the dark ring rediscovered and found to be transparent; important drawings of nebulas were made, and many other observations were effected, under the administration of the Bonds. Later, under Prof. Winlock, the Harvard Observatory has been distinguished by the excellence of the mechanical arrangements adopted there, and by M. Trouvelot's admirable drawings of solar spots and prominences of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, and of various details of lunar scenery.

In passing, I may note that at Harvard, as indeed elsewhere in America, others than professed astronomers have achieved very useful astronomical work. As Prof. Mayer, of the Stevens Institute, Hoboken, has turned his marvelous ingenuity in devising new methods of physical research to astronomical inquiries, so Prof. Cooke, of Harvard, whose special subject is chemistry, made a most important