University of Michigan. ObservatoryAlternative names
Observatories of the University of Michigan, including the Lamont-Hussey Observatory, the McMath-Hulbert Observatory, the Portage Lake Observatory, the Angell Hall Laboratory, and the Department of Astronomy.
From the description of Observatory (University of Michigan) records, 1855-1977. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34419011
Observatories of the University of Michigan, including the Lamont-Hussey Observatory, the McMath-Hulbert Observatory, the Portage Lake Observatory, the Angell Hall Laboratory, the Detroit Observatory, and the Department of Astronomy.
From the description of Observatory (University of Michigan) records, 1855-1985. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 82247021
The University of Michigan observatories and the Department of Astronomy have their roots in the university presidency of Henry Tappan. Following his inaugural speech in 1852, Tappan was approached by Henry N. Walker, a Detroit resident wishing to become active in university affairs. Tappan encouraged him to raise funds towards the financing of an astronomical observatory. Walker solicited funds from Detroit citizens and in a few months raised $7,000, an amount more than doubled by further subscriptions.
In 1853, Tappan left for Europe to study various educational systems and to procure instruments for the observatory. While in Prussia, Tappan met Franz Brunnow and offered him the directorship of the university's new observatory. Brunnow became the first director of the observatory and a professor of astronomy at the university, remaining until 1863. Brunnow offered the first systematic course in practical astronomy in the world and the new department was one of the first at the University of Michigan to offer graduate level courses.
The observatory building was completed in the summer of 1854, and the instruments were mounted the following winter. A meridian circle was constructed in Berlin and a twelve-inch refracting telescope, at that time the third largest in the world, was constructed by Henry Fritz of New York. President Tappan named the new observatory in honor of the Detroit residents who contributed much of the funding. In 1931 it was renamed the University of Michigan Observatory.
Professor William J. Hussey was made director of the Observatory in 1904 and began work to enlarge and improve it. Observatory equipment had slowly become outclassed by equipment in use elsewhere. Hussey traveled to South Africa in 1923 to select the ideal location for an observatory to map the southern skies. The impetus for this observatory was Robert P. Lamont's gift of a 27-inch refracting telescope in 1910. The Lamont-Hussey Observatory, consisting of a circular telescope room, fifty-six feet in diameter, was dedicated in April 1928 near Bloemfontein, South Africa.
In 1926, Ralph A. Curtiss became chairman of the Department of Astronomy and director of the Observatory. By 1930, the expansion of Ann Arbor created an environment not conducive to astronomical observation. City and university buildings limited the observatory's horizon, smoke and city lights hampered observation, and heavy trains frequently passed within a few hundred yards and jarred sensitive instruments. Additional observatories would be constructed to maintain the quality of the university's research in astronomy.
The McMath-Hulbert Observatory was presented to the university in 1931 by three donors, Francis and Robert McMath and Judge Henry Hulbert. A grant of $20,000 from the Rackham fund, another from the McGregor Fund and private contributions made it possible in 1935 to build a solar tower telescope. This new telescope brought certain suspected phenomena into clear view and disproved a theory about light-pressure advanced in England. For simultaneous recording, a second tower and telescope were constructed. Robert McMath designed all the instruments and buildings. The University of Michigan discontinued its support of the McMath-Hulbert observatory at the end of June 1979.
The university closed its observatory in South Africa upon the retirement of Director Richard A. Rossiter in 1953, bringing the lens and optical equipment back to Michigan. The Department of Astronomy turned to the development of a radio telescope on Peach Mountain near Portage Lake, Michigan, in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research. The Peach Mountain Observatory was begun in 1948, the result of a grant from the McGregor Fund and the university.
The University of Michigan-Dartmouth College-MIT Astronomy Consortium was officially established in 1975, leading to the establishment of the MDM (Michigan-Dartmouth-MIT) Observatory located on Kitt Peak, 50 miles west of Tucson, Arizona, and 6,300 feet above sea level.
Today, the University of Michigan observatories consist of three different sites, operating a total of four major telescopes. These include a 26 meter telescope at a radio observatory located near Ann Arbor, a .6 meter Curtis Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo, Chile, and two telescopes of 1.3 and 2.4 meter aperture at the MDM Observatory located on Kitt Peak near Tucson, Arizona. The university continues to maintain small telescopes on the top floor of Angell Hall. Plans also exist for the renovation of the University of Michigan/Detroit Observatory and its telescope.
From the guide to the Observatory (University of Michigan) records, 1855-1985, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Ann Arbor (Mich.)|
|Ann Arbor (Mich.)|