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Letter from George Airy

Hotel Feder, Turin - GA gives an outline of his movements around Europe followed by a description of an eclipse: 'Well - the sun arose badly and the sky was very cloudy, but we saw the beginning and progress of the eclipse clearly, and saw the totality well. But it is difficult to give an idea of it. The gloominess increased, the country seemed annihilated... The moon was seen like a black patch in the sky surrounded by a ring of light (very slightly red I think) whose breadth was about 1/8 of her own diameter... As touching the ring of light, about which so much has been said, I have no hesitation in believing it to depend neither on the sun's atmosphere nor on the moon', but simply to arise from our own atmosphere'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA will give WW notice when he can 'talk over the tide matters'. Regarding 'a theory of the Pacific (or indeed of any sea - especially where the depth is not known) I give it up as desperate. Whether, like the simpler planetary perturbations, it can ever be theorised after the discovery of simple empirical laws, I do not venture to guess'. The magnetic observations are going well: 'there has been terrific disturbance of the magnets (not yet finished) which is well self-registered'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA wants WW to delete the last paragraph of his last letter concerning tides [see GA to WW, 6 March 1843]: 'I find on consideration that in the case when the main wave is a forced wave (as in a tidal wave in a canal round the earth) the partial differential equation, upon making the second substitution, will not have that peculiar form which introduces the factor x'.

Letter from George Airy

Oxford - Struve [Friedrich G. W. von Struve] and GA intend to come to Cambridge on Sunday - 'I believe Otto Struve will also accompany us'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has sent by rail 'the volumes of the Greenwich Astronomical Observations for 1836, Appendixes, Planetary and Lunar Reductions, as directed by the Board of Visitors.

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - George Airy's brother has come across a copy of the Solemn League and covenant signed by most of the people in his parish [Swineshead]: 'I think there are not many of these parochial covenants in existence - so it appeared to me well to ask his licence to offer it to the library'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA encloses the bill for the paper puncher WW ordered (made by Ransome and May). GA's life has been very busy over the last two or three months. His 'great instrument has not yet left the engineers. The pivots have given some trouble'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - WW's memorial on the tides 'was duly read by me and approved to the best of my judgement, and reserved for the intended meeting of the B.A. Council'. A Council was called without informing GA: 'Imagine a Seniority Meeting without notice to the Master - so I have pronounced said meeting null and void, and we will have another soon, as soon as I have screwed Henslow and Hooker into shape, who are the most unpractical dogs that I ever met with. The business of the Association will, in fact, be somewhat advanced by this apparent contretemps'. GA has had a letter from 'Madeira yesterday. My party seem to be posited comfortably; but with regard to the ultimate success in the main object of the voyage, I have little hope' [see GA to WW, 20 Nov. 1851].

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - Due to a little ailment and the desire to go to Playford with his family, GA must 'reluctantly give up the chance of seeing' WW.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has just returned from Madeira where his wife and daughter are staying [see GA to WW, 20 November 1851]. GA doubts whether his daughter's health, Elizabeth, is any better. He saw 'the Pole Star lower than I practically thought possible (the Earth is assuredly not flat)'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA will arrive on Saturday at 1.30. He has written to the Vice-Chancellor advising him to send the Sheepshanks Endowment Deed to Trinity Lodge 'a few minutes before 1.30 for my examination' [for background see GA to WW, 30 Sept. 1856]. GA is not sure whether he can obtain information on the question of a Transit-Circle: 'Can you ascertain whether Challis [James] looks to dimensions equal to those of the Greenwich Instrument, or smaller?'

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - The Sheepshanks endowment will be nearly in place once Miss Sheepshanks executes the Transfer of stock and the Deed of Gift [see GA to WW, 30 Sept. 1856]. Thus WW and Trinity Seniors should prepare the time and circumstances for the examination of scholarship.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA thanks WW for the copy of the Commissioners new Draft of Statutes for the College -- 'on the whole I am satisfied with it'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has written to the Vice-Chancellor, 'stating the reasons for my scheme' [see GA to WW, 10 Nov. 1858].

Letter from George Airy

Playford near Ipswich - GA sends 'the orthodox map of the Ecliptic path. Mr. Hind [John Hind] I know not why has squeezed up the degrees of longitude most uncomfortably'. GA gives suggestions for travel routes in Spain [this is to do with WW's trip to Spain to witness a total eclipse on 18 July 1860]. If the claims of the un-credible village doctor are true, and that there is a planet between Mercury and the Sun, then it is odd 'that it should have been kept so long unrevealed'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has sought to get rid of the imaginaries ever since the Root of Equation appeared and believes that he has at last succeeded: 'And now I have faith in the real thing: i.e. that every algebraic expression is divisible by a quadratic trinomial. I abominate all duplicate square roots, even when real, and I proceed thus with an ordinary quadratic' [GA gives the mathematical demonstration].

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has just returned from observing lighthouses in France. He cannot tell WW everything about the Board of Visitors meeting since both GA and Adams [John C. Adams] were not informed that the meeting was to be an hour early: 'So I found Lubbock [John W. Lubbock] in full speech, very absurdly as I thought, in the same strain as his printed papers. I endeavoured to explain in reply that there was no notion of preferring numerical to algebraical expressions &c'. A vote was taken before GA left early for his train to Dover. Sir James South was there protesting against any recommendation of grant to any body for any thing. Hansen [Peter Andreas Hansen] has theoretically investigated the variation and evection, and concluded that these rays do not agree perfectly with those observed because of the figure of the moon - 'this is the whole that Lubbock means by empirical'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has written to Lord John Russell about the high amount of duty on telescopes charged by the Spanish: A 'Telescope about 10 inches long, a Tripod stand...is very desirable. The Sun will be about 50 degrees high'. More advice on travelling in Spain and suggestions on the best location to observe the total eclipse [see GA to WW, 17 Jan. 1860]. GA presumes that James Challis and the Syndicate are still pursuing 'their policy of laying up money for an instrument, which I think very good'. GA is willing to pay for the printing of his paper on equations for the Cambridge Philosophical Society [see GA to WW, 4 Oct. 1859].

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA will come to Cambridge for the day on Wednesday. Did WW see GA's article on the landing of Plautius in Britain in the Athenaeum? He read 'with infinite advantage' WW's work on Plato: 'What a terrible bore old Socrates must have been (except to the few)'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Can GA borrow the map of Spain that used to be in the apartments of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. GA wants to make a statement concerning the forthcoming total eclipse in Spain.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - The 'grant of £50 to Challis [James Challis] for his computations is evidently right - I wish it had been twice as much'. Presumably 'the "Managing Body" or Observatory Syndicate made the application: that intermediary form is indispensable'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA is glad that WW and Everina Affleck saw the total eclipse in Spain: 'it is a merry thing to see the corona so well, and to see the stars so bright, and to see the orange-yellow horizon'. GA gives a description of his party and their experience observing the eclipse.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Miss Sheepshanks will give £2000 (and possibly up to £3000) towards a new instrument for the Cambridge Observatory [see GA to WW, 12 Nov. 1860].

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