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Reflections on the Astronomy of GlasgowA story of some 500 years$
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David Clarke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748678891

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748678891.001.0001

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Time is of the Essence

Time is of the Essence

Chapter:
(p.221) Chapter 8 Time is of the Essence
Source:
Reflections on the Astronomy of Glasgow
Author(s):

David Clarke

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748678891.003.0008

Despite the 1841 remit to supply ‘time’ to the Clyde, the University Observatory only provided services by weekly carrying a chronometer to the City to regulate the Exchange clock and to provide checks for McGregor & Company; by using a transit telescope on their roof, they serviced a one o’ clock time-ball on the Sailors’ Home tower built in 1857. Professor Nichol was unhappy with the situation but could not provide a more robust solution. In 1860, Professor Grant encouraged the City Council to lay telegraphic wires for transmitting time but received poor response. The matter ‘exploded’ with an announcement to test a one o’ clock time-gun under Edinburgh control and authorised by Piazzi Smyth. As ‘Glasgow's Big Bang of 1863’, the anger of the politics of this East/West spat reverberated through editorials and letters in the Herald, one article demeaning the title of Astronomer Royal for Scotland. The University Observatory independently established a three mile telegraphic link to control the College turret clock and another with a seconds' finger, a far means of displaying accurate time over a single daily audio signal. Other public clocks were then networked around the City. The system operated for over 50 years.

Keywords:   One o'clock time-ball, McGregor & Company, Glasgow Sailors' Home, One o'clock time-gun, Piazzi Smyth, Astronomer Royal for Scotland

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