Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/93

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85
JAMES EDWARD KEELER.

JAMES EDWARD KEELER.
By Prof. W. W. CAMPBELL,

ACTING DIRECTOR OF THE LICK OBSERVATORY.

THE Lick Observatory has lost an ideal director. Astronomy has suffered a loss it can ill afford. Colleagues and friends widespread will miss a companionship which was simply delightful.

James Edward Keeler was born in La Salle, 111., on September 10, 1857. Ralph Keeler, his first American ancestor, settled in Hartford in 1635. His father, Wm. F. Keeler, was an officer of the original 'Monitor' at the time of its engagement with the 'Merrimac' His mother (still living) is the daughter of Henry Dutton, former Governor of Connecticut and Dean of the Yale Law School.

In 1869 the family removed from La Salle, Ill., to Mayport, Fla. Here Keeler prepared for college, under the tutelage of his father and his older brother. Here his fondness for astronomical studies was developed. He established 'The Mayport Astronomical Observatory' in 1875-77. It included, at the least, a quadrant, a two-inch telescope, a meridian circle and a clock. Under date of 1875, September 22, his journal records an observed altitude of Polaris secured with 'my quadrant.' Other entries read:

"1875, November 14. Sent to Queen last night for lenses for my telescope."

"1875, November 29. Lenses from Queen came to-night; one two-inch achromatic, and two plano-convex lenses for eyepiece."

"1875, December 12. Directed my telescope to the stars, and saw the rings of Saturn for the first time. . . ."

"December 14. Saw the Annular Nebula in Lyra. One satellite of Saturn. . . . All four of the stars in the Trapezium. . . ."

"1876, January 26. Got up at half-past four this morning and applied my telescope to Jupiter for the first time. . . ."

In 1877, at the age of twenty years, he constructed a meridian-circle instrument. The telescope was that of a common spyglass, 1.6-inch aperture and 13.45-inch focus. The axis was turned out of wood. Brass ferrules, driven on the ends of the axis and turned down, formed the pivots. The wooden circle, 13.3 inches in diameter, was graduated to 15'.[1]


  1. Keeler's original sketch of this instrument and his written description of it will be published in the next number of the 'Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.'