No department of Harvard University is more worthy of its pride than the Astronomical Observatory
Founded only fifty-five years ago, it has from the beginning been one of the foremost contributors to the marvellous growth of astronomical science during the latter half of this century.
Its beginning was humble.
The fine old house on the corner of Harvard and Quincy streets, lately the home of Dr. A. P. Peabody
and now occupied by Professor Palmer
, was its first headquarters.
The round cupola on top is a relic of this period, for it was built to support an astronomical dome to shelter the small telescope then used.
The first recorded observation was on the evening of December 31, 1839.
The first director, Professor W. C. Bond
, was appointed the following February.
and his assistants worked enthusiastically with such resources as they could command.
The Observatory might have struggled long with its inferior equipment, for it had aroused no popular interest, such as is necessary in order to secure funds for any costly enterprise.
But when the great comet of 1843 appeared and frightened the ignorant, it proved a harbinger of good for the industrious little observatory.
Everybody's curiosity was aroused.
People regretted that at Cambridge
there was no instrument of sufficient power to study it and other heavenly bodies to advantage.