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Annual Report of the Visiting Committee.


The annual report of the visiting committee of the Harvard Observatory has just been made and is of considerable general interest. The following is a synoptical report of the work done:

1. Completing the work of the small meridian photometer. During three years this instrument has been used in measuring the light of all the stars visible to the naked eye. There have been nearly a hundred thousand of these measurements, being the largest piece of photometric work ever accomplished. A large instrument of the same form has been constructed, and, with it, it is proposed to examine and determine the light of some nine thousand stars.

2. The large equatorial telescope has been kept at work, and the observations of the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites have been continued as in previous years. A number of planetary nebulae have been discovered by the method of sweeping the heavens, which originated in our observatory.

3. The observations on comets have been conducted with zeal and success - the assistants working day and night continuously when a new comet is discovered - so that several times this observatory has had the honor of announcing its orbit to America and Europe in advance of all others. The first accurate position obtained for a comet here is forwarded by cable to Europe, and has sometimes preceded the discovery of the comet abroad.

4. A volume has just been finished and published which completes the micrometric work of the large telescope to January, 1882. This is the eighth volume issued by us within a few years.

5. The great work done with the meridian circle from 1870 to 1879 would now be ready for publication were it not that the serious illness of Professor Rogers has interfered with its completion.

The committee also commends the work of Prof. Pickering very highly. In conclusion, it says:

"The results have been so satisfactory that your committee has determined to raise a permanent fund of $100,000, if the community responds, as we believe it will, to our appeal. This will make it unnecessary to ask for any more temporary help, and will keep this noble institution in full operation. A few large contributions of $10,000 or $5000 from the wealthy and liberal will assure the success of this undertaking. Several subscriptions have been already obtained, and your committee hopes that by the end of the year this important object may be secured."

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