Materials from the former University Observatory relating to Ludwig Becker

Glasgow: 20th Century
Sp Coll (uncatalogued)

These papers relating to Ludwig Becker (1860-1947), seventh Professor of Astronomy, have come to Special Collections from the old University of Glasgow Observatory. They include a plea by Becker that the Observatory be removed from its Dowanhill location to a site with better visibility. This was written some time after 1909. In 1905, Becker had proposed an ambitious scheme comprising two observatories. A small Observatory for students’ day-to-day use would be built on Gilmorehill. A larger research facility, stocked with new and existing instruments, would be built on extensive grounds outside the city so that urban development would not affect viewing conditions. By 1909, Becker had given up on this project because the funding was not forthcoming. Instead, he proposed to keep the Dowanhill Observatory for student use and build a smaller research station outside of Glasgow. This research station was never built. Instead, in 1939, a small new observatory at University Gardens replaced the Dowanhill site.

Also on display here is a typewritten draft of a paper by Becker on one of the Observatory’s instruments, the Photographic Transit Instrument. It contains numerous typed and manuscript corrections. The journal cutting is from Nature and contains William Smart’s obituary for Becker.

 A Page Plus Additional Diagram from Becker's Paper on the Photographic Transit Instrument
Image: page of type-written equations plus additional diagram by Becker.

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