Transit of Venus : Home Journal 2

Transit of Venus

<p>This journal, kept by Captain George Lyon Tupman, records the preparations for the British Transit of Venus expeditions in 1874, carried out at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, continuing the previous volume <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00056-00056-00001/1'>RGO 59/56/1</a>. It highlights the tasks carried out by the observers and assistants in connection to the preparations. Furthermore, the entries note the various institutions that the observatory staff engaged with, thus shedding light on the widespread organisational network within which the expedition took place.</p> <p>The work carried out by the expedition members focused on what the journal describes as longitude work, i.e. the observers and their assistants reducing the observations in order to determine the longitude of the location of the observations [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(5);return false;'>41</a>]. In addition, the journal also highlights the learning process of the observers in relation to the use and understanding of their instruments through being constantly readjusted and reassembled [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(10);return false;'>46r</a>]. The journal also notes the interaction between instruments and observatory staff sometimes being elevated by the naming of the instruments, as in the case of the “Brass Beast” [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(37);return false;'>72</a>]. Despite frequent practice with the instruments, the observers were also required to have a solid theoretical grounding in astronomy which was summarised by Tupman in a list highlighting the individual observer's knowledge in astronomy [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(14);return false;'>49</a>]. While work was the main focus of the journals, occasional accounts of people going on leave either due to personal reasons or to carry out visits away from the observatory were also noted.</p> <p>The journal was composed during the months preceding the departure of the expedition to Hawai'i and Honolulu, for which Tupman was chief observer. As a result, many of the entries describe organising work to secure and to purchase stores for this and the four other expedition [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(39);return false;'>74</a>]. This involved several correspondence with various individuals, as well as attending face-to-face meetings and visits to inspect the required equipment and provisions. Although majority of the correspondence concerned the securing of stores, some of the entries note correspondence about the hiring of sappers for the expeditions [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(27);return false;'>62</a>].</p> <p>In connection to the preparation, there are records of the huts and instruments being disassembled. Furthermore, some of the entries describe the tedious preparation of the cases for the long journey which awaited them. In the packing of the instruments and the disassembling of the huts, the significant roles of the labourers and carpenters emerge as they were highlighted by Tupman [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(51);return false;'>84r</a>].</p> <p>Similarly to the first of Tupman’s "Home Journals", the entries note the frequent interactions of the observatory and expedition staff with instrument makers. While the instrument makers themselves rarely paid a visit to the observation grounds, a few of the workmen achieved the status of being named in the journal as opposed to being referred to with the more general category of workman [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(25);return false;'>60</a>].</p> <p>Daniel Belteki<br /> University of Kent</p>


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