National Geographic : 1890 Apr
National Geographic iMagazine. The U. S. Steamer Fortune was designated by the Navy Department for the conveyance of the expedition, and Lieut. Commander (now Commander), F. M. Green, U. S. N. was placed in charge. This officer had given great attention to the subject, was a practiced observer, and exceptionally well qualified for the position. The services of Mr. Miles Rock, a skillful astronomer and computer who is now chief of the boundary survey of Guatemala, were obtained as principal astronomical assistant. The breaking out in the autumn of 1873, of the trouble with Spain and Cuba, over the Virginius affair, delayed the expedition until the next year, but in November 1874, a start was made from Washington, and after a short stay in Kingston, Jamacia, Aspinwall was reached early in December. Mr. Rock with one set of instruments proceeded immediately to Panama, while Lieut. Commander Green remained in Aspinwall with the other. The outfit for each party consisted of :-first, a portable observatory. This was made of wood in sections, framework of ash, covered with tongued and grooved pine boards. The sections were con nected when set up by iron knees and bolts. When packed it was not difficult to transport, and it could be put up, or taken down in an hour. When set up it was about eight feet square, with doors in all sides, and a shed roof. The roof was made in three sections, the middle one being hinged so that it could be raised for observing. These observatories proved to be very strong and serviceable. They remained in use for a number of years with occasional slight repairs, were transported many thou sand miles and set up in a great number of places in Europe, Asia, North and South America. They were designed by Mr. J. A. Rogers, and constructed at the Washington Navy Yard. Upon arriving at a point where observations were to be made, after obtaining the necessary permits from the local authorities, a suit able location for the observatory was the first consideration. The essential requirements were, a clear view of the heavens in the meridian, firm ground, a spot secluded enough not to attract attention from inquisitive idlers, and proximity to the telegraph office, or end of the telegraph line. Such a spot being found and permission being obtained from the owner for its use, an approxi mate meridian line was laid out by compass, and the house set up with reference to it. Experience soon showed the advisability of making certain additions to the observatory not contemplated by the designer, but which added much to convenience and comfort.