Biographical note on Joseph Winlock
Joseph Winlock (1826-1875), Director of the Harvard College Observatory, was a professor of astronomy and geodesy, and was responsible for making many important improvements to the Observatory. Winlock was born on February 6, 1826 in Shelby County, Kentucky. He graduated from Shelby College in Kentucky in 1845, then was appointed professor of mathematics and astronomy at the college, where he remained until 1852. Winlock also served as assistant professor in mathematics at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., and was head of the mathematics department at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He was appointed the third director of the Harvard College Observatory in 1866, a post he maintained until his death on June 11, 1875. While at the Observatory, Winlock was responsible for obtaining many pieces of new scientific equipment, including a photometer, several spectroscopes, a mean time chronometer, and a Bond chronograph, among many others. He also invented several important instruments, including the Hygrophant, a mechanism that measured the percentage of moisture in the air, and introduced a system of communicating time for the cities of Boston and Cambridge, as well as other large towns in New England. He was particularly interested in conducting measurements with the meridian circle, creating a catalogue of double stars, and investigating stellar photometry. In 1860, Winlock led a solar eclipse expedition to Kentucky, where his astronomy career had begun, and in 1870, at the request of the United States Coast Survey, he traveled abroad to Spain, where he was able to photograph the corona for the first time. A lunar impact crater on the far side of the Moon is named after him, recognizing Winlock's contributions to the field of astronomy.
Biographical note on Arthur Searle
Arthur Searle (1837-1920), Phillips Professor of Astronomy, was responsible for observing many stars, double stars, comets, planets, and asteroids throughout his career. He was born was in London, England in October, 1837. Searle graduated from Harvard College in 1856, received his Master’s degree in 1859, then went on to engage in various professions, including the study of chemistry, school teaching, sheep farming in California, stock brokering, and working with the statistical department of the United States Sanitary Commission. He began working at the Harvard College Observatory in 1868, was named assistant in 1869; assistant professor in 1883; Phillips Professor of Astronomy in 1887; and Phillips Professor Emeritus in 1912. He also taught a class in astronomy at Radcliffe College for many years. Searle died in October, 1920 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Historical note on the Harvard College Observatory
The Harvard College Observatory was established in 1839 when, after decades of attempts to develop an observatory, the Harvard Corporation hired William Cranch Bond, a Boston clockmaker, as the Astronomical Observer to the University. His personal astronomical equipment was transferred to the Dana House (now the Dana-Palmer House), where the observatory was housed until 1843. Scholars and students at Harvard University had studied astronomy since the seventeenth century, but it wasn’t until a large comet sparked public interest in 1843 that donors began to give funds to the University build an observatory. A bequest from Edmund Bromfield Phillips in 1849 provided $100,000 toward the construction of a new observatory, and President Josiah Quincy secured $25,730 from ninety-four donors that year. That same year, Harvard ordered a fifteen-inch diameter lens from Merz and Mahler of Munich to build a Great Refractor telescope. The Great Refractor was used to determine stellar positions and the visual observation of planets, variable stars, comets, and nebulae. The first observation with the telescope was of the Moon on June 24, 1847, which was followed by several significant achievements. The eighth satellite of Saturn was discovered in 1848 by W.C. Bond and his son, George P. Bond. In 1850, Saturn's crape, or inner, ring was first observed, also by the Bonds. In 1844, the University moved the equipment to the main building at a site fifty feet higher in elevation than the city of Cambridge, now known as Observatory Hill.