<p>Watercolour painting of the Magnet House from the south-west, showing the thermometer support, the cover of the deep-sunk thermometer, and Great Shed. The large pole in the image is the electrometer mast, which stood 80 feet high. The painting is captioned and signed on the back by Christabel Airy, daughter of the Astronomer Royal, George Airy. </p> <p> In 1816, the Admiralty ordered the Astronomer Royal, John Pond, to make regular observations of magnetic variation (declination). Pond's 'Magnetic House', built in the Lower Garden, proved to have unstable foundations and was demolished in 1824, at which point observations ceased. Pond's successor, George Airy, recognised the importance of magnetic work and persuaded the Admiralty to fund the establishment and staffing of a new Magnetic Observatory. Further grounds in the park were secured and an extension to the south fenced off in 1837. </p> <p> Airy's Magnetic Observatory was completed in May 1838. The building, which stood where the Peter Harrison Planetarium now stands, was cruciform in shape. It was built of wood on a concrete foundation, materials such as iron and brick being excluded to avoid their risk of residual magnetism.</p> <p> For further views of the Magnetic Observatory, see <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00116-00003-00003/1'>RGO 116/3/3</a>, <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00116-00003-00009/1'>RGO 116/3/9</a>, <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00116-00003-00011/1'>RGO 116/3/11</a>, <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00116-00005-00002/1'>RGO 116/5/2</a> and <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00116-00005-00009/1'>RGO 116/5/9</a>.</p> <p>For a brief history of the Magnetic Observatory see, <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://www.royalobservatorygreenwich.org/articles.php?article=926'>http://www.royalobservatorygreenwich.org/articles.php?article=926</a> </p>
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