May
28

Today in Smithsonian History: May 28, 1900

Charles Greeley Abbot with bolometric apparatus

Charles Greeley Abbot, then Acting Director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, pictured with bolometric apparatus, traveled with a team of Smithsonian scientists to Wadesboro, North Carolina, to study an eclipse of the sun. Abbot later became director of the SAO and fifth Secretary (1928-1944) of the Smithsonian.

May 28, 1900 The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, then based in Washington, D.C., loaded several railroad cars with scientific equipment and headed to Wadesboro, North Carolina. Scientists had determined that this small town would be the best location in North America for viewing an expected total solar eclipse, and the Smithsonian Solar Eclipse Expedition hoped to capture photographic proof of the solar corona during the event for further study. The team included Secretary Samuel P. Langley, Observatory acting director Charles Greeley Abbot and Smithsonian photographer Thomas Smillie. Smillie rigged cameras to seven telescopes and successfully made eight glass-plate negatives, ranging in size from 11 x 14 inches to 30 x 30 inches. At the time, Smillie’s work was considered an amazing photographic and scientific achievement.

May 28, 1900 solar eclipse photographed by Smithsonian photographer Thomas Smillie. (Via Smithsonian Institution Archives)

May 28, 1900 solar eclipse photographed by Smithsonian photographer Thomas Smillie. (Via Smithsonian Institution Archives)

Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives


Posted: 28 May 2017
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