One of the oldest responsibilities of an astronomer was the measurement of time. Before telegraph and radios, each observatory had special equipment and clocks for the precise determination of local solar and local sidereal time. These clocks were much more precise than the typical pendulum clocks found in the home. This collection contains the clocks, time recording devices and weather instruments necessary for the accurate measurement of the local time.


Department of Astronomy

Collection Items

Drum chronograph
Metal, wood, glass

The chronograph, made by Warner and Swasey, is permanently mounted in the clock room. Includes wooden box (9 ¼ x 6 ¼ x 50 ¾ inches) connected to counter-weights and pulleys attached to the ceiling. It consists of a brass…

Mercury stick barometer
Wood, metal, glass, mercury

Housed in wooden box with glass sides, hinged wood/glass door, case is 9 ¼ x 6 ¼ x 50 ¾ inches. Originally kept in the entrance hall on the west wall, just north of the door to the transit rooms. Glass on front door…

Cabin sidereal clock
Aluminum, brass, glass

There are two sidereal clocks, both are electric. The first is 9 ½-inch diameter with a 8-inch dial, black metal base, brass and glass, 3 hands.

The second smaller clock 5 ¼-inch diameter, tag indicates a date of…

Master clocks
Wood, glass, metal

They are model 25 IBM Master clocks. There are two 60 beat with a Graham dead-beat escapement with micrometer adjustment. Magnet wound, spring drive, self-regulating movement, 63 1/6” x 19 ¼” x 7 5/8”, plain glass door, 12”…

Sidereal clock, no. 22
Wood, metal, glass

Wooden mahogany case, there was a spare wooden case, height 59.25 cm, width 44 cm, depth 20 cm. There are two front glass doors, one for the dial and one for the pendulum. The sides are wood paneling for the pendulum and glass…

Radio receiver
Metal, glass

In 1914, the Observatory was connected to a wireless apparatus to receive radio time signals. The apparatus consisted of one wire 650 feet long stretching from the Observatory to the Auditorium to Lincoln Hall. In 1964, the antenna…

Self winding clock
Wood, metal, glass

Purchased by the Astronomy Club in 1985 at an estate sale, the clock was missing the dial and door but still retained the wooden case, paper instructions, wires, hands, pendulum, and clock mechanism. In 2011, Dr. Bruce Hannon…

2-day Marine Chronometer
Mahogany wood, brass, silver, glass

Chronometer of 56-hour duration is set in gimbals in a mahogany box. Serial number #2805. John Bliss and Company was active 1857-1956.

Marine chronometer within wood box with hinged lid measuring 7-inches…
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