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Astronomical and Meteorological Workers in New South Wales


Lieutenant Dawes

Captain Flinders

Admiral Phillip Parker King

Sir Thomas MacDougall Brisbane

Dr. Charles Stargard Rumker

James Dunlop

P. E. De Strzelecki

Captain J. C. Wickham

Rev. W. B. Clarke, M.A.

Rev. A. Glennie

E. C. Close

Sir William Macarthur

J. Boucher

S. H. Officer

John Wyndham

William Stanley Jevons

Establishment of Meteorological Observatories

Votes and Proceedings, N.S.W., 1848.

Appendix A.

Appendix B.

Appendix C.

Appendix D.

Appendix E.

Appendix F.

Appendix G.

Appendix H.

Appendix I.

Appendix J.

Appendix K.

Appendix L.

Appendix M.

Appendix N.

Appendix O.

Appendix P.

Appendix Q.

Appendix R.

Appendix S.

Appendix T.

Appendix U.



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James Dunlop (continued)

In Votes and Proceedings 1852, 57a., it appears that Dunlop himself packed the Parramatta instruments carefully into boxes, and that they were sent to, and stored in the Ordinance Stores, Sydney,; but unfortunately many small pieces insignificant in themselves, but important for the instruments, have been lost for want of that care on the part of the storekeepers which can only be given by some one who understands such instruments. It should be mentioned that the Platinum Ball, which was about two inches in diameter, and formed the bob of the pendulum, the length of which was measured at Parramatta, was sold by the Rev. W. Scott, with the consent of the Government, in 1859, with the view of adding to the useful instruments in the Observatory.

There can be no doubt of the great natural ability shewn by Mr. Dunlop at Parramatta, and the amount of work he got through in those early years is very surprising. It is true that it was done at high pressure and to meet Sir Thomas Brisbane's wish, and there can be no doubt that Mr. Dunlop was fully aware of the imperfections of the instruments, inperfections which were in them when purchased and for which he was in no way responsible. Still, it is very much to be regretted that so many observations were made; a smaller number observed with greater care would have been of far more value than the host of roughly observed stars found in the Parramatta Catalogue. In forming an estimate of this work, however, it is hardly fair to judge it by present standards, then a less degree of accuracy satisfied the majority, because instruments were less perfect, and it may be said that the southern heavens were a new field in which most men would be tempted by quantity rather than quality.

Mr. Dunlop's career was a, remarkable one. Selected by Sir Thomas Brisbane, and taken from a subordinate position, he was by him placed in a very responsible one, and praised on every occasion. He shared with him the honour of the work done at Parramatta, and took him as his Private Astronomer at Makerstown; he became, in fact, the honored and trusted fellow worker of Sir Thomas Brisbane.

The following notice of his retirement appeared:—

[SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 9th Nov., 1847.]

Mr. Dunlop the Astronomer Royal of this Colony, has resigned his appointment. During the many years Mr. Dunlop has held this most distinguished appointment he has made it a fixed rule of his life to distribute in acts of charity the salary he received from the Admiralty, with whom the appointment is vested. He was appointed Corresponding Member of the Institute Royal de France, received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society of London and other due recognitions of talent. A public Testimonial Committee is appointed in Parramatta.

In a letter, signed James Dunlop, he says that in May, 1843, he had booked over the South Read barometer readings and found the points of the curves later than at Parramatta, Hence it is evident that in May, 1843, he was keeping a Meteorological Record. (His letter is with the South Head Observations in Sydney Observatory.) In Captain King's "Hundred Observations," also, it is incidentally mentioned that Mr. Dunlop had determined the diurnal curve of the barometer by sixteen days of hourly readings. These observations are in one of the remaining books, but the observations are not for every how of the twenty-four; from six to eight hours are omitted each night.

Mr. Dunlop was born on 31st October, 1793, at Dalry, Ayrshire; resigned his position at Parramatta, August, 1847; died 23rd September, 1848, and was buried at Kincumber within thirteen months of his leaving Parramatta.

People in Bright Sparcs - Dunlop, James; Russell, Henry Chamberlain; Scott, William

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Russell, H. C. 1888 'Astronomical and Meteorological Workers in New South Wales, 1778-1860,' Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science vol. 1, 1888, pp. 45-94.

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