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Nature volume 31, page 251 | Download Citation



THE NAVAL OBSERVATORY, WASHINGTON.—The Report of the Superintendent of this establishment, Commodore S. R. Franklin, to the Navy Department, for the year ending October 31, 1884, has been issued. Great stress is laid upon the importance of commencing the buildings for the new Observatory. The present site is stated to be notoriously unhealthy, and the buildings are in a dilapidated state, and, as the ground for the new Observatory has been purchased and the plans made and approved, the Superintendent urges that Congress should be appealed to during the coming session for a portion at least of the funds required for the new Observatory. His estimate “For the purpose of erecting a new Naval Observatory and necessary buildings upon the site purchased under the Act of Congress, approved February 4, 1880,” amounts to 586,138 dollars, or approximately 120,000l. The 26-inch equatorial was chiefly employed in observations of the satellites of Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and Mars; in the case of Uranus, the observations were confined mostly to the two outer satellites, and have now been discontinued, as the favourable time for determining the position of their orbits has passed. Since this instrument was mounted in 1873 observations of the faint satellites of the planets have constituted its main work, and the laborious discussion of the observations, with the view to the correction of orbital elements, was commenced in earnest in August 1883, and is now in a very advanced state, particularly as regards the satellites of Saturn. A report from Prof. Harkness, in charge of the work for the Transit of Venus Commission, is appended: the measurements of the negatives obtained at the various stations was completed last August; the number of photographic plates giving satisfactory results is 932 for the northern and 639 for the southern hemisphere. Prof. Harkness oenters into details with respect to these measures, and the method of conducting them, for which reference must be made to the report. The Superintendent regrets that the printing of the Washington observations is not so advanced as is desirable, and proposes applying to Congress for a sum of 1000l. annually for a few years, in order to bring up work to date, after which a smaller sum would allow of the due publication of the observations.

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