SKU: A01733 Categories: ,


Description: On April 9, 1844, Airy writes from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich to Capt. W.H. Smyth:

“My dear Sir

I am afraid that my last note did not convey to you the state of the case in regard to the numeration of the observations of [Nevil] Maskelyne’s stars: namely that, for accurate information I possess no other means than you do.

I can supply the imperfect information to which I alluded, for certain years.

I remain my dear Sir

Yours Truly, G B Airy”

An original cabinet card photograph from life of Airy accompanies the letter (4¼” x 6”). This autograph letter signed is written on one side of blue laid paper, approx. 4½” x 7.”  Item #A01733

Sir George Biddell Airy (1801-1892) was a British scientist and Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881. He is well-known for several scientific achievements, including the determination of the mean density of the earth and the inequity on the motions of the Earth and Venus. In 1827, he successfully corrected astigmatism in the human eye…his own. “Airy disk” is named after him, as are several other discoveries. In 1851, he established the Greenwich line which came to be accepted internationally as the Greenwich Meridian.

Capt. W.H. Smyth (1788-1865) was a British Admiral, cartographer, and scientific writer. In 1817, on one of his cartographic trips in the Mediterranean, he became interested in astronomy. He began observing several “deep sky objects” and published the results in the Cycle of Celestial Object (1844) for which he won a gold medal from and the Presidency to The Royal Astronomical Society.

Nevil Maskelyne (1732–1811) was the fifth British Astronomer Royal. He held the office from 1765 to 1811. He was the first person to scientifically measure the mass of the planet Earth. He created the British Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris for the Meridian of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.

Condition: Mailing fold lines, lightly toned around perimeter,  “autogr” is written at the top in another hand, otherwise very good. Cabinet card is laid onto a sheet of paper, otherwise a fine image with very good contrast and resolution