Observing History

Caught a tour today of the University of Michigan's historic Detroit Observatory, the place where esteemed Victorian gentlemen went to gaze at the stars and other celestial bodies.

Fully restored to its 1854 grandeur, the Observatory boasts two relatively unaltered telescopes from back in the day, when they were among the largest and most state-of-the-art instruments in the field.

Our tour guide admitted that University president Tappan's desire to build the most advanced observatory of its kind in an effort to put U of M on the map, so to speak, was at odds with Michigan's often-cloudy skies.

Perhaps that is one reason there were no significant discoveries, apart from a comet and a few asteroids, made at this site (or so the guide told me when I asked).

On May 8-10 the Antique Telescope Society (yes, this group exists) will be putting the Observatory back into action for its annual meeting. Maybe they will have better luck.