It’s about time

Photos of the interior of the Van Vleck Observatory are scarce beyond its two most photogenic locales: the library and the 20″ telescope dome. While this may not be too surprising, it has been somewhat disheartening as we try to imagine what it may have been like to, for example, work in the “computation room” in the 1920s.

This has made the recent discovery of a set of photos dated November, 1963, all the more remarkable. The set contains 9 photos, 8 of which are of these rarely photographed spaces. As you will see in this and subsequent posts, fifty years into its existence VVO still retained much of its original character, including a functioning dark room, transit observation room, and time services room. Some spaces still look remarkably similar as we approach the century mark, while others are quite a bit different.

On the left is the main office in November, '63, compared with July, 2015 on the right. Note how little has changed in 50 years!

On the left is the main office in November, ’63, compared with July, 2015 on the right. Note how little has changed in 50 years!

rk_office_comp

This student office space in the basement (left) has been converted to a permanent office (right), now home to Professor Roy Kilgard. The bookcase immediately below the radiator is still in use!

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2 thoughts on “It’s about time

  1. The postings about the history of the Van Vleck Observatory are absolutely delightful. I wish that I had taken photos of the
    interior of VVO when I was an undergrad in the early 1970s. I do have photographs of the exterior and of the construction of
    the dome for the 24-inch, but those are likely to be similar to images that you already have. I hope that someone turns
    up a good photo of the Fisk telescope in its mounting within the small dome. I spent many hours with the Fisk making visual observations
    of RR Lyrae stars and other variables, but seem never to have taken a photograph of the instrument.

    Like

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