Transit of Venus : Honolulu Station journal

Transit of Venus

<p>This journal presents an account of the 1874 Transit of Venus expedition to Honolulu kept by the party's chief astronomer, Captain George Lyon Tupman. The documents encompass various topics ranging from the daily routine of the observers to attending dinners with members of the royal family. In brief, the journal provides a glimpse into the daily life of the party members at Honolulu as well as into their interactions with both the locals and the wider public interested in the expedition.</p> <p>Similarly to other expedition journals, there are recurring elements noted in the daily tasks carried out by the party members. A large amount of time is devoted to the observation of stars, comparison of chronometers and clocks, and to the reduction of the observations [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(23);return false;'>17</a>]. In addition, Tupman describes throughout several pages the daily routine of each one of the main observers in detail [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(40);return false;'>34</a>]. In consequence, most of the entries only note additional tasks or deviations from the routine.</p> <p>One of the factors affecting the daily routine was the constant presence of visitors at the ground. As it is noted by the entries, the King, David Kalākaua, persuaded Tupman to open the ground to public visits. The astronomer was sceptical about the project, especially as the King offered to send down his military band on a daily basis, but clearly felt obliged to be hospitable. [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(22);return false;'>16</a>] After a while we encounter comments about the visitors being a nuisance as the need to show them around the grounds and to explain the instruments to them resulted in the constant deviation from the line of work described in the daily routine [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(39);return false;'>33</a>]. In addition to the visitors, the cloudy weather and the mosquitos also caused frequent discontent among the party members to such an extent that Tupman found them significant to record [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(15);return false;'>10r</a>]. </p> <p>Besides the daily routine of the observers, many of the entries note the tasks which other staff members were engaged in. For instance, there are accounts of the building of the sheds and the huts by the sappers. Similarly, the carpenters are noted as being busy fitting shelves into the huts as well as making observing chairs [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(30);return false;'>24</a>].</p> <p>The expedition party, however, was not constrained to the observatory grounds. Various entries record visits to the town in order to meet with officers, the mayor of town, and other eminent individuals [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(31);return false;'>25</a>]. Moreover, the journal notes an expedition to find what remained of the Fleuriais transit, and to set up meridian marks around the area [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(98);return false;'>92</a>].</p> <p>Daniel Belteki<br /> University of Kent</p>

 


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