Hear from Henry Chamberlain Russell about his role at the Sydney Observatory and his work to document the important event of the Transit of Venus. Then Henry Chamberlain Russell discusses his astronomical observations as they relate to timekeeping, mapping the sky, and photography.

Canadian Heritage Information Network

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003


Oh, I didn’t notice you there. No no, come in, come in. My good wife tells me I’ve become so engrossed in my work, I notice little else. Ah yes, this telescope, is it not a superb instrument? I had to import the lenses but I had the tube and the mounting built locally. It has been in use for well over a hundred years. I’m so glad you could visit my observatory. My name is Russell. Henry Chamberlain Russell. I was appointed Government Astronomer in 1870, and such is my passion for this place, I have never been able to leave it.

I first came to the observatory in 1858, soon after its establishment, to take up my position as a computer. Huh huh, yeah, I amuse you I see, but I can assure you that we too had computers all those years ago. That was the name given to the men who made scientific calculations. How I wish I had been able to take advantage of one of your modern computers. I trust you will not think me a braggard if I tell you I transformed this place. I made many improvements, the observatory being completely refurbished with instruments of the most modern and perfect forms. Upon my appointment as government astronomer, I at once took steps to prepare for a very important astronomical event – the transit of Venus.

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