- Bond, William Cranch, 1789-1859 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Extent.1 linear feet (1 box)
Biographical / Historical
Trained by his clockmaker father, Bond built his first clock when he was fifteen years old and eventually took over his father’s business. Inspired by a solar eclipse in 1806, Bond soon thereafter became an avid amateur astronomer; he rebuilt the parlor of his first house as an observatory. Bond traveled to Europe in 1815, commissioned by Harvard University to gather information on European observatories. In 1839, Bond was allowed to move his personal astronomical equipment to Harvard and serve as its (unpaid) "Astronomical Observer to the University." By 1843, a sun-grazing comet having aroused public interest in astronomy, Harvard was able to raise money for the construction of a state-of-the-art observatory. Bond designed the building and the observing chair, and Harvard bought a fifteen-inch German-built refracting telescope, equal in size to the largest in the world at the time. The telescope was first used in 1847 when it was pointed to the moon. Bond and his son, George Phillips Bond, discovered Saturn's moon Hyperion, were the first to observe the then innermost ring of Saturn in 1850, and helped pioneer astrophotography.
Bond married his first cousin, Selina Cranch, in 1819; they had four sons and two daughters. After Selina's death in 1831, Bond married her older sister, Mary Roope Cranch.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Bond, William Cranch, 1789-1859. William Cranch Bond correspondence, 1840-1852: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- Description rules
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.
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