Saturday 23 January 2021

More about the Greg Observatory


Lancaster Standard and County Advertiser Friday 5th January 1894


To the Editor of the Lancaster Standard

Sir. It seems to be high time that some explanation should be forthcoming to the supineness and of the Park Committee with respect to the Greg Observatory. It will be within your recollection that the committee some time since recommended the Council to hand over the Management of the astronomical portion of the Observatory to the Storey Institute —a course which would have been attended with the greatest advantages. But, at the very next council meeting the committee deliberately, and without any reasonable explication, objected to this being done. Mr. Councillor Bell might say with scathing emphasis, that a more extraordinary performance it has never been his misfortune to wintness Anything more grossly inconsistent, could hardly be imagined, than for a committee to deliberately recommend one thing, and directly afterwards stultify itself by objecting to it. It is a most unfortunate state of things. The Hon. director, whose services to the Observatory have never been either fully known or appreciated, has resigned—for reasons which are pretty well known and, except Dr. Turpin, there appears to be on one capable of succeeding him.The consequence is that the Observatory is now without a head; and this grand gift to the town, with such great capabilities for good remains practically a dead letter. The committee do, indeed, point with triumph to the fact that so many trippers have paid their pennies to see the place, and that so much money was received from them. But the Observatory was not built and equipped for trippers, but for the benefit of the town. It was intended to promote end cultivate the study of astronomy, the purest and most fascinating of all the sciences. What has been done by the committee, or what is being done, to further this end? The hon. director been alienated, and the offers of Dr Turpin have been refused. Who, then, is to give the directions and instructions for the proper conduct of the place? It with the intention of making the Observatory something more than a mere penny peepshow for trippers that the proposal to transfer the management front the committee to the Storey Institute was made. If this had been done, classes would have been formed under Dr. Turpin and Mr. Bone for the systematic study of astronomy: the observatory would have been thrown open to the public on certain specified nights, and the objects of the institution would have been carried out. But, up to the present, nothing whatever has been done this season, and the policy of masterly inactivity reigns supreme. There are no demonstrations; the plate is closed to the public during the winter evenings; the instruments are idle, and the Observatory is practically useless. Moreover, the town has been put to a considerable expense in the purchase of a valuable mean time clock a barometer, a wind gauge, a rain gauge, and a sunshine recorder. But of what use are these under the present management, rather, mismanagement The mean clock remains uncorrected, the readings of the instruments are not registered, simply because there is noose on one possessed of sufficient scientific knowledge to attend to them. The readings of these instruments ought to be published every week in the local newspapers. Of what benefit are they to the town unless this is done? The public a right to expect some benefit for the outlay which has been made: they they have a right to expect that the Observatory should be made proper use of; and I would respectfully urge the committee to bestir themselves, or to over the management of the Observatory to the Storey Institute, as the educational centre of the town.- -Yours, obediently, JUPITER.

Lancaster Standard and County Advertiser Friday 12th January 1894


To the Editor of the Lancaster Standard

Sirs,—Having taken an interest in the Greg Observatory, 1 was glad to see the letter from "Jupiter," in your last issue, drawing attention to the mismanagement of this valuable educational institution by the Park Committee. Judging from a remark by the Chairman of this committee, at the Council meeting referred to, I fear be does not understand the purpose for which the instruments were provided. The Managing Committee act as if the principal object of the institution is to attract pennies from, cheap-trippers. This being incompatible with correct astronomical work, the honorary director , resigned, and at present there is no one in charge capable of giving the necessary instruction. Last winter the honorary director gave a series of lessons on the use of the instruments and other astronomical matters, which were highly valued by a considerable number of students, who eagerly looked forward to a renewal of these studies this winter. So far, however, they have been disappointed. I would suggest that a memorial to the Town Council be prepared, asking that the astronomical part of the institution he attached to the Storey Institute, so as to be utilised in the interests of the ratepayers, , instead of being wasted at the whim Of its present custodians and their showman.-,—Yours truly, A RATEPAYER.

Lancaster Standard and County Advertiser Friday 19th January 1894


Sir —Being a lover of the science of Astronomy, it was with the greatest pleasure that I read the letter of your able correspondent "Jupiter," whose plain speaking comes most opportunely at the present juncture. This letter being immediately followed by one from "Ratepayer," leads to think that the public are getting tired of the way in which the Observatory in conducted. And, surely, it is high time we an alteration. If there be not a single member of our Corporate body who has a soul above repairing streets and cleaning sewerss, then it is their duty to place the management in the bands of some one who has and who would ptt the building to a right and legitimate use, and not degrade it in the manner in which it has been degraded of late.

We have an excellent Observatory, equipped with superb instruments; also fine " Astronomical," and "Mean Time" clocks; and in addition to these the very best Meteorological instruments. But, by the splendid system of mismanagement, which our anti-scientific Corporation are following, they are rendered practically useless. Just now, in the depth of the winter season, when almost every night the heavens are crowded with objects of the highest interest, the Observatory should have been in full work. Eager students ought to be crowding round the great " Equatorial," or standing breathless, watching the operator at the " Transit" instrument, as he recorded the exact time, to the fraction of a second, when some star crossed the meridian. But alas!, night after night darkness and silence reign in the building. Or, if by chance, a party should go up there is no one amongst them who can properly manipulate the instruments; and, if there were, the " Astronomical " clock has remained so long uncorrected, that it would be getting very difficult to set the " Equatorial" by the readings of the " Right Ascension" and " Declination " circles. I think this state of things is positively a disgrace to our town, and will lead outsiders to the belief that science is but little loved amongst us. Let our sapient Corporation get rid of the institution which seems to be of too high a nature for them. If they cannot, or will not " try " to manage it themselves., let them hand it over to somebody who can, and will, and not remain like the proverbial " dog in the manger," until everybody's patience becomes exhausted. and we grow disgusted with the exhibition of so little care for the grandest of all the sciences.—l am, yours. &c A LOVER OF ASTRONOMY.

Lancaster, Jan. 18th, 1894.  

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