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    Abstract

    THE OBSERVATORY OF MELBOURNE.—The sixteenth annual report to the Board of Visitors of this Observatory has been issued by the Director Mr. Ellery. The staff now consists of the Government Astronomer, the Chief Assistant, Mr. White, and three junior assistants. Mr. White takes charge of the meridional work, and on Mr. Turner devolves the observation, drawing, and photography in connection with the great telescope, and obtaining daily sun-pictures with the photo-heliograph. The large telescope almost monopolises the services of a workman. The actual work with this instrument during the year ending June 30, 1881, to which the Report refers, was performed on sixty-eight nights, twenty-four. of which were devoted to lunar photography, unfavourable weather, or bright moonlight is stated to have interfered on 125 nights, while eighty-two nights were occupied with the great influx of visitors to the Observatory, during the continuance of the Melbourne International Exhibition. Twenty-two nebulæ of Sir John Herschel's Catalogue were observed and sketched, with a new one, preceding No. 3705 by 1m. 7s., and 4′ 30″ south. The majority of the nebulæ observed agree well with Herschel's description, but Nos. 4502, 4510, and 5012 do not accord with his measures; 3430 is found to be much more suddenly condensed in the centre, and 3734 is much fainter than he describes. The nebula surrounding η Argûs was carefully compared on three occasions with drawings of 1875, but no decided change could be detected. During the year, 175 photographs of the sun were obtained showing a marked increase of spots and disturbances of the surface. The magnetical and meteorological work and progress of intercolonial meteorology are also subjects of the report. The Government had approved of the purchase of a new transit-circle more adequate to the requirements of the day than the existing instrument, and the necessary amount had been placed upon the estimates.

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