Items from the latest Occasional Newsletter of Chamberlin Observatory

To subscribe, send name and address to
Chamberlin Observatory, 2930 E. Warren Avenue, Denver CO 80208 USA.


Dr. Robert Stencel, DU Astronomy,

This is a work in progress, constructive comments welcome, email:

colorado.ida at gmail dot com

INDEX (Use edit/find to jump to topic:)

HOWE (1894)
MENZEL (1923)
SECRIST (1953)




---------------- Vol. XVI (2009) ----------------

As 2009 begins, we are in the process of finishing touchup after the major restoration work during summer 2008.

Compiling the final month of attendance records from the telescope logbooks, reveals a low of only 3,750 guests this past calendar year.

In this connection, an interesting BBC program, Heart and Soul, examined the connection between spirituality and flying, where it was stated that human admiration of the capability of bird seems to relate to several religious traditions that put the realm of gods up there.

Could the decline in interest in Chamberlin offering be related to secular pressures on Denver over the past decade, or simply our inability in promotion?


Return to Chamberlin Observatory homepage.


---------------- Vol. XV (2008) ----------------

Nov.08 saw reclamation of the observatory from contractors

Oct.08: contract closeout; sabbatical visit to ISAS/Japan.

Sep.08: interior painting, alarm rewiring and floors redone

Aug.08: exterior mortar repair completed; windows rebuilds returning

Jul.08: south stairs rebuild in full swing

Jun.08: south stairs demo, major interior wall demo for new alarms

May08: start of south stair demo, exterior mortar repairs.

Deaths, 2008: Herbert Julian Howe; Arthur Clarke, and others.

Return to Chamberlin Observatory homepage.


---------------- Vol.XIV (2007) ----------------

Endless delays to the start of state historic funding repairs

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---------------- Vol.XIII (2006) ----------------

State historic fund award made but begins a lengthy contracting paperwork process fronted by DU Facilities Management.

Return to Chamberlin Observatory homepage.


---------------- Vol.XII (2005) -----------------


Return to Chamberlin Observatory homepage.


---------------- Vol.XI (2004) ------------------


Return to Chamberlin Observatory homepage.


--------------- Vol.X (2003) -------------------


Return to Chamberlin Observatory homepage.


--------------- Vol.IX (2002) ------------------


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----------------Vol. VIII (2001) ----------------

July 2001:

MORE ABOUT DONALD MENZEL, DU graduate 1921 and Harvard College Observatory Director 1954-1969.  A well-attended Centennial Symposium was held at Harvard in May 2001, featuring reviews of his life and works.  Key among these are: his graudate student apprenticeship with the Dean of American Astrophysics, Henry Russell Norris at Princeton; his appointment as Astronomer at Lick Observatory during the 1920s and early 1930s; the beginning of his solar eclipse campaign career in 1936, Siberia; the beginning of a series of research papers connecting the new quantum physics and astronomical spectroscopy; his work on radio propagation and cryptanalysis during World War II; his defense against loyalty charges in the early 1950s, and his leadership of Harvard College Observatory thereafter, featuring founding of the High Altitude Observatory near Climax and the Sacramento Peak Observatory near Cloudcroft, New Mexico.  Menzel was prolific in popularizing astronomy, including the Field Guide to the Stars and Planets and short films that Baby Boomers might remember from the 1950s, including “Our Mr. Sun”.  We are proud of one of the early students of Chamberlin Observatory!


(website: )

GRAND MESA STAR PARTY—tentatively planned for Sept. 15, 2001 weekend.

May 2001:

LIGHT POLLUTION—A House-Senate conference committee concurred on HB1160, “Outdoor Lighting Standards” and sent it to Gov. Owens for signature.  Thanks again to all who supported the effort.  However, this bill - even if signed into law - is the smallest step toward solving the wasted light problem we face.  Continue to educate anyone who expresses interest in the night sky.  Further information: and/or

MENZEL CENTENNIAL SYMPOSIUM AT HARVARD, May 11, 2001 --  About 100 astronomers

and relatives of Donald H. Menzel converged on Harvard College Observatory to celebrate the numerous accomplishments of DHM.  Born in Colorado in 1901, raised in Leadville, graduated East High (Denver) 1917, U of Denver 1920.

He then was admitted at Princeton for PhD studies under the famous H.N.Russell,

and graduate 1924.  He soon was an observer at Lick Obs until joining the Harvard faculty in 1932, where he rose to Director in 1952 until 1965.  Some of Menzel’s accomplishments: list coming soon.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH: David Trott reports one of his students wrote in an essay that “the telescope at Chamberlin Observatory sits atop sandstone blocks and makes a REVELATION every 24 hours”—wish that were true!!!


LIGHT POLLUTION: Colorado HB1160 “Outdoor Lighting Standards” passed Senate hearing on 3/13/01 and the entire Senate on 3/24: Special thanks to IDAenthusiasts Jerry Sherlin, Chuck Carlson, Leroy Guatney, Greg Marino, Ron Mickle and Bill Ormsby for helping prep the Outdoor Lighting Standards bill defense downtown.  Meanwhile, the California energy crisis expanded with new set of rolling blackouts and PG&E bankruptcy.  As of this writing, the bill had not yet reached the Governor, because debate over Growth legislation has slowed things.  However, IDA Colorado has succeeded in educating our state leadership about this issue, and plans to strategize about how to approach the next legislative session to expand the impact of this initial effort.  Please continue to explain light pollution to interested party, and contact if you would like to helwp.  Website:


was a 1920 graduate of DU, and became internationally known for his science and as Director of Harvard College Observatory (1952-66).  He was born on 11 April 1901, in Florence, Colorado, and soon moved to Leadville—it was no coincidence that a major solar observatory (Climax - HAO) was later located near there.  His interest in astronomy was aroused by the total solar eclipse of 8 June 1918, and the outburst of Nova Aquilae shortly thereafter.  Both events were extensively watched in Denver, and articles written by Chamberlin Director Prof. Howe may have influenced the college student Menzel to pursue astronomy.  Newly found references to Menzel in the Howe diaries will be presented at the conference.  Watch this space for more news from the meeting.

SECRIST BOOK MAY GO TO SECOND PRINTING: Hal Secrist’s memoirs “With Eyes on

the Stars”—life inside Chamberlin Observatory as a student resident in 1952 has sold well and a second printing is being discussed.  Copies available via this website homepage link.

ANOTHER NIFTY WEBSITE: want to see an all-sky view?  Check out “The Night Sky Live” at website:  That bright thing might be the Moon!



MORE DARK SKY NEWS: Colorado Bill 01-1160 “Outdoor Lighting Standards” passed House 3rd reading (52-9) on Feb.28th and was sent over to the Senate side. This proposal is educating  legislative leaders to the issues.  Some opposition developed during the debate, about relative cost and effectiveness of full-cutoff lighting.  Next stop: Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources, chaired by Sen. Dyer (Durango).  Check website for updates.  The IDA ( identifies light pollution as part of larger issues including light trespass, glare and energy waste.  Trespass involves light onto a neighbors property, that is unwelcome (into a room or yard).  Glare is another effect of badly aimed lights, and is especially bad for older persons whose eyes slowly adjust and are blinded.  The California energy supply situation highlights the cumulative effect of badly aimed lights: sky glow, with magnitude about the shortfall of megawatts.  Not every watt can be captured, but smarter lighting will help.  More and more, the manufacturers are waking up to the marketing opportunities

of smarter lighting: check website for a good example of this!

STATUS OF DIGITAL SETTING CIRCLES: Tom Melsheimer and Tom Bisque teamed up to solve the encoder and software incompatibilities affecting the Chamberlin installation, and on Friday March 1st, members of the E-Board were treated to an encoder-assisted viewing session.  Everyone seemed pleased with the ability to locate obscure sky objects in record time with the computer assist.  A few remaining tweaks are expected to make the system more stable, accurate and generally helpful for DAS public night events and DU classes. 

At first look, its remarkable what can be seen despite Denvers bright skies, once you can locate these sky wonders.

SUMMER STAR PARTIES:  check the MARS region websites for details:


MORE DARK SKY NEWS: On Jan.31st HB 1160 “Outdoor Lighting Standards” passed UNANIMOUSLY (10-0) in the Colorado legislature Transportation and Energy committee (Wm.Swenson, R-Longmont, chair), and moved to the full House for further consideration.  Many thanks to Denver Rep.Andrew Romanoff for sponsoring the bill, and to public-minded advocates who showed up to speak in favor: Nancy Clanton, Cathy Havens, Larry Brooks, Leroy Guatney, Jan Kok (NCAS), Greg Marino, Ron Mickle, Jerry Sherlin, and others.  This was only the first vote of seven (3 house votes, 3 senate votes and Governor Owens).   You can check on the bills status on the web: and find out how to contact your elected state representative and senator.   Also have a look at website:

LOCAL HEROES: Special thanks to IDA enthusiasts Jerry Sherlin, Chuck Carlson, Leroy Guatney, Greg Marino, Ron Mickle and Bill Ormsby for helping prep the Outdoor Lighting Standards bill defense downtown.  And more local heroes: what really rules is the outstanding astrophotography by Joe Gafford that appeared in this newsletter (even more glorious in color, as sometimes seen during Open House nights at Chamberlin).  Great work Mr. Gafford!

HEADS UP: a new, possibly bright comet, LINEAR WM1 coming this fall to the inner solar system.  It will be hanging out near Perseus until it races southward in December and perihelion about mid-January 2002.  Status of digital setting circles: Just as he determined one of the new encoder units was faulty, Tom Melsheimer had to leave for a Hawaii installation project in late Jan, which delayed continuation of the effort until Feb. 9th.  However, the new laptop running SKY software is now available for use at the refractor. Get out there and observe those Messier objects!

Jan. 2001

OPPORTUNITIES:  Installation of “digital setting circles” on the Clark-Saegmueller refractor at Chamberlin began in early January 2001.  The design and installation are being done by Tom Melscheimer (, who has been building computerized telescope control systems since 1972.  The work was jointly paid for by DAS and DU. 

The encoders are passive and should not affect the regular mechanical operation of the telescope, but when properly calibrated, will allow operators to more efficiently find fainter objects under our less than dark skies in Denver.  If you are interested in learning how to use the refractor, become a DAS public night volunteer!

LIGHT POLLUTION NOTES: In December 2000, Jefferson county planning commission passed 7-0, a decent light pollution control zoning code (Section 47) requiring full cutoff fixtures, etc.  DAS members who reside in Jeffco should consider appearing at the next hearing before the County Commissioners in April who will next vote on the proposal.  See website:  In January 2001, the Colorado legislature was expected to introduce a light pollution control bill.  You can contact the Colorado section of the IDA (Jerry Sherlin, chairman, or myself ( for an update.  Ideally, the bill has survived initial hearing, and supportive constituent input to elected representatives is still highly appropriate.

MARS region happenings:

Jan. 1, 2001

Welcome to the new millennium!  It is also the beginning of the new century and decade, for those who reckon calendars beginning with the year One.  Here’s hoping for the best possible world and sky in these new days to come.  When resources permit, incremental improvements at Chamberlin Observatory will be sought to benefit both DAS and University of Denver programs in outreach and educational research in astronomy.

*Opportunities: Congrats to those who may have a new telescope.  To you and those with seasoned equipment, consider expanding your observing program to include reporting results.  One important area involves VARIABLE STARS.  All you need is a scope 6 inches or larger aperture, your eyes and a finder chart available from the American Asssociation of Variable Star Observers, 

Another interesting opportunity has been recently announced by the Hands-On Universe collaboration, headquartered at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab: website  Their aim is to establish a global network of remotely accessible telescopes, and they are looking for individuals to help high school science teachers work with students on using these facilities.  This seems like a good way for DAS members to support science teaching in our regional high schools.

*Light Pollution Notes: Now is the time to get acquainted with your State legislative representatives.  Following the defeat of the Smart Growth amendment (24), various growth proposals are being developed and you can help inject the concept of SMART LIGHTING into the discussion.  As astronomers, we are especially sensitive to the degradation of even remote observing sites in Colorado, and there is an opportunity to say with your mouth what your eyes want to see - dark skies!  What have other states done?   For examples, visit the IDA website,  We are also looking for people to help measure sky brightness with star counts in regions defined by the International Meteor Organization (see website, ).

*MARS happenings: lots of great summer star parties are being planned, in collaboration with the Astronomical League; see the Mountain Astronomical Research Section website, for details.

--Dr.Bob Stencel,, University of Denver Astronomy p.s. Regional newsletters are welcome to reprint any useful portion of this article.

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Vol. 7, Spring 2000

NOTES FROM THE DIARIES OF DU’s PROFESSOR HERBERT A. HOWE First Director of Chamberlin Observatory (1894-1926)

Based on the transcription by Herbert J. Howe, ©1999


Feb.22, 1916: “My evening was largely occupied with visitors at the observatory.  The seeing was pretty good and I saw the companion of Sirius at an angle of perhaps 80 degrees.  I do not remember ever having noticed it before with this telescope.”


Sept. 1, 1917: “A letter from Prof. Frost of Yerkes Observatory indicates that “Burnham” and he will be here in about 2 weeks to look at our telescope, with a view to attaching an interferometer to it for next year’s (solar) eclipse (of 6/8/18).” [Presumed to be Barnard, E.E., given subsequent refs.]

Sept. 8: “Late in the afternoon, Prof. Loud came out with Prof. Frost, the

Director of Yerkes Observatory, and Dr. Barnard.  In the evening they came out

to look at some doubles and I had a very interesting time with them.”

Sept.10: “Prof. Frost and Barnard reversed the front lens of the telescope, and after unnecessarilly taking out the whole object glass, they sent for me in the middle of the afternoon... being stuck on the reversal of the front lens. ... I spent the whole evening taking off all the electrical apparatus on the eye-end, so that Frost and Barnard could shove the eye-end up to the SUPPOSED photographic focus.”  (caps for emphasis)

Sept.11: “Profs. Frost and Barnard have succeeded in shoving the eye-end in, after selecting the plate holder.

Sept.12: “Spent the entire evening at the Observatory with Frost and Barnard experimenting with the photographic focus of the 20 inch. ... After experimenting with other stars, we found by phots of Fomalhaut THAT THE PHOTOGRAPHIC FOCUS WAS AN INCH (PLUS OR MINUS) UP THE TUBE BEYOND OUR REACH.  Retired at 1:30am.”

Sept.13: Clouds and rain.

Sept.14: “Cloudy.  In the evening, I found how far the big plate holder would need to be twisted to make it right.”

Sept.15: “I made some measurements about the telescope jacket and the position

of the photographic focus.  Drs. Frost and Barnard ... left for Green River, Wyoming later in the day (eclipse center line).”    Sept.16: Sunday.

Sept.17: “Spent the entire eveing with Profs. Frost and Barnard taking photos,

to get the focus and to test the quality of the images.  We quit at 1am, having

taken photos of a part of the double cluster in Perseus, and of the Pleiades, after determining the photgraphic focus by beta Capriconii.”

Sept.18: “Did not go to school at all, as I had no recitations and was excused

by the Chancellor to help Profs. Frost and Barnard in fixing the old guiding

mechanism for the photographic plate, in a temporary manner with the help of

Mr. Long and Ainsworth.  I also regulated the driving clock by its chronograph

and fixed up a bright wire illumination for the little micrometer with which

Dr.Barnard guided.  We also found, after fighting clouds til 11pm that the sky

cleared and we worked the rest of the night, stopping at 5am.  Dr.Barnard had much trouble because the slow motion in a hard would not work, slipping.  Dr.

Barnard was very patient and took photos of the Pleiades and the nebulae of

Orion.  Dr.Frost thought the photos excellent.  We were pleased but very tired.”Sept.19: “Barnard cleaned the object glass.  He used absorbent cotton and a mixture of alcohol, ammonia and water.  The Yerkes glass is not capped and is cleaned once a month.  During the forenoon, we got the instrument restored to visual uses, finally balancing the telescope rudely.  Drs. Frost and Barnard left for Colorado Springs.”

Oct.1: “A letter from Prof. Frost contains some prints of photos of the

building, etc. made by Barnard, and of the nebulae in Orion and Pleiades

made with our object glass WITH THE FRONT LENS REMOVED.  I am glad to get them.”


[Note: it’s clear from the Diaries that Howe and friends did not spend full

time at this project, with the demands of classes and Sundays taking priority]

Sept.25, 1917: “I spoke to Dr.Craft about dismounting the telescope, and he took Mr.Adams over to the Observatory to see about builindg a false floor, high up under the telescope, to dismount it on. ... Worked til midnight, writing up my recent work with Drs. Frost and Barnard.”

Sept.26: “Talked with Mr.Adams about the scaffolding which he is to erect in the Observatory to hold the big telescope when I take it apart.”

Sept.29: “Made some progress in studying the cause of the hard motion of the telescope in right ascension, finding what I had suspected, viz. that there is a slight bending of the Delta sleeve at six hour angle, also that the alpha sector by its own weight, makes an addition to the fraction at six hour angle.”

Oct.3: “In the evening, I observed stars on the equator, to get the collimation,

and then turned the object glass 120 degrees, to see (tomorrow) is that affected

collimation.  I felt quite pleased to find I could do this alone, without difficulty, except the time consumed.”

Oct.9: “Mr.Adams, the contractor, brought some lumber and I planned with him

how to put up the false floor on which I am to dismount the telescope.  I spent

the latter part of the afternoon chiefly testing the instrument to find, if possible, the cause of its moving hard in right ascension.” 

Oct.12: “In the afternoon, with the help of 2 carpenters who have been working

in the dome room, by pulling the telescopes by ropes, after fastening the

declination axis tight to the scaffold, we took off the eye end at the bayonet

joint and got the telescope tube supported horizontally.”

Oct.17: “In early morning and evening, I worked over the question of the lack

of perpendicularity of the polar axis to the declinations axis of the 20 inch.”

Oct.20: “A letter from Saegmuller encourages me about putting ball bearings on

the big worm wheel and correcting the lack of perpendicularity of the declinations axis to the polar axis and sight line.”

Oct.22: “Spent my evenign over vexatious problem of getting my work on the

determination of the flexure of the Delta axis of the 20 inch telescope put


Oct.23: “I first made measurements and drew a plan of the thin piece between

the telescope and the declination axis to reduce the collimation to about zero.I worked the rest of the day getting the clamps and slow motion rods off and studying the modifications for photography.  Retired at 1am.”

Oct.24: “Arranged all of the blocking for taking off the two ends of the telescope tube and fixed the Delta axis blocking so that I can get the circle and big weights off when I get to it.”

Oct.25: “In the morning I took off the declination sector, and in the evening

I took off the long half of the tube, and managed it with the greatest of ease.I was surprised to see how light it was.  I am quite proud of the rope device which I got up, to prevent its moving either way (except for a short distance and yet allowing me to roll it).”

Oct.27: “We disconnected some wires and attempted to get the long rod out of the polar axis (but could not get it clear out).  We also took the North (short) section of the tube off, and rolled it to the edge of the temporary floor.”

Oct.29: “In the morning, I took the big, bevelled gear off the Delta axis, and

some minor things.  In the evening, Mr.Shivley helped me and we got the central

section of the tube off the Delta axis, and also took everything off the fore end of the Delta sleeve.  Started finally to take the Delta axis out, but were stalled by the bearing at its outer end, which could not unscrew.”

Oct.30: “We took off the Delta axis in the morning.  In the afternoon, we got the polar axis lifted up horizontal.  It was a big job.  In the evening, Mr.  Shivley and I got the big gear off, at the base of the polar axis, with much difficulty, and then the hour circle.  Saegmuller writes that if I will send him the polar axis and big worm wheel, he will equip the worm wheel with a roller bearing without charge.”

Oct.31: “Jack and I took the big worm wheel off the polar axis and found that

its bearing was badly gummed up and somewhat rusty.  Proper lubrication should

end this trouble.”

Nov.5: “Took the RA circle of the 20 inch to Mr.Hansen to engrave the numbers for the hours on it in several places.”

Nov.10: “Worked on cleaning the big Equatorial (bearing of worm wheel and parts near it).  We got off the big friction rollers.”

Nov.12: “Spent early morning cleaning the big friction rollers of the telescope.

In the evening, Mr.Shivley and I got onto the lower end of the polar axis, the

big bevelled gear, which used to stick so tight.”

Nov.13: “Spent the evening at the observatory with Mr.Shivley: we succeeded in

getting the long hollow rod out from inside the polar axis.”

Nov.14: “Spent the evening cleaning up the Delta sleeve and bearings and studying the rod in the polar axis.”

Nov.15: “In the evening Mr.Shivley again helped me put some “shim” under the delcination sleeve where it is bolted to the head of the polar axis.  Also cleaned the Delta axis pretty well.”

[Begin re-assembly] 

Nov.16: “In the late afternoon, I planned a way of getting the polar axis

back into place, and Mr.Shivley and I were successful in carrying out the plan

as far as we went.”

Nov.17: “...trying to get the big friction rollers into place.”

Nov.19: “...worked til 11:30pm getting the polar axis into its bearings.”

Nov.23: “We got to slow motion and clamp rods ready for me to take to town, and put the cap on the upper bearing of the polar axis and did some cleaning on the Delta axis and its extension.”

Nov.29: “Spent the evening til 11:30pm at the Observatory, working with Mr.

Shivley on the big telescope.  We found that when the big friction rollers

were turned up high enough to lift the polar axis and Delta sleeve out of the

upper bearing of the polar axis, the big worm wheel still turned easily.  We

spent the rest of the time over electric contact rings and the arrangement for

holding the wires which come up thru the polar axis.”

Dec.1: “Brought home three of the shortened clamp and slow motion rods for the

big telescope and spent about 3 hours cleaning up parts, etc.  Put the Delta

axis in place and made various tests about it, and the big gear that encircles.”

Dec.5: “Went to town in mid afternoon and brought out the big gear that embraces the Delta axis, in which I have had two more big bolts put.”

Dec.10: “We connected the electric circuits from the lower end of the polar axis to the end of the Delta sleeve, put the Delta axis in place, but failed to get in the big bevel gear in the right place.”

Dec.11: “...adjusting the quick motion of the Delta axis, that is adjusting the gears its upper end.”

Dec.17: “One of Mr.Marshall’s men fixed the arm hole near the object glass

properly, enlarging it and putting a nice cap on it, in the forenoon.  At noon,

Mr.D.Smith and 2 other students carried the Delta axis for me upstairs and clear up to the false floor.  We got the declination axis into place with the big gear on it properly adjusted.  That made us happy.”

Dec.18: “Worked til 11pm getting all the gears etc. and the outer end of the dec axis adjusted properly.”

Dec.20: “Spent the evening putting on the outermost long section of the Delta sleeve with all its appurtances, except the 3 heavy counterweights (counter- poises).”

Dec.21: “...put the big weights on the Delta axis and the ball bearing at the lower end of the polar axis and cleaned up parts...”

Dec.24: “Before breakfast I washed out the inside of the tube of the big

telescope.  Wrote to Gertner about fixing the photographic attachment of the

big telescope, etc. and to 3 other firms about an equatorial mounting for the

3 inch Bardou telescope.  In the afternoon, Julian helped me in the hard job of

putting a big ladder up to the summit of the dome, inside of it, to see how to

fix matters so the birds could not get in.  Then we had a simple Christmas.”

Dec.27: “Got some galvanized iron and rubber belting for the top of the dome, to keep the birds out.  In the evening, Mr.Shivley and I got the central seciton of the telescope tube on the delcination axis.  So it now looks like the beginning of the end of getting the telescope (back) together.”

[end of entries for 1917]
[1918 to follow]

Thurs March 28, 1918: “In the evening I felt very happy because Mr.Shivley and I went after theproblem of making the big telescope move easily in RA.  I raised the big friction rollers and oiled the axes etc. up, putting three new oil cups on the big worm gear.  Soon found that the trouble was in the nut at the top of the pinion which holds the small gear which meshes with the big bevel near the lower end of the polar axis.  When this nut was loosened, the telescope moved easily, even after the big worm gear at the top of the polar axis was enmeshed with its driving worm.  So it looks as if the problem of making the telescope move easily was finally solved and I am jubilant.  Retired at 12:15am.”

Fri. March 29, 1918 “Found a letter from Schlesinger asking if our six inch [Grubb] telescope was strong enough to hold his 60 pound camera for relativity trial.  I replied it was.”

Friday June 7th 1918: “A fine day with more clear weather than before.  Many people came to the Observatory.  Annie J. Cannon, Dr. Duncan (Wellesley) and Herbert R. Morgan of the US Naval Observatory were among the callers.”

Saturday June 8th 1918: “A beautiful bright morning, which inspired me with hope.  Clouds gradually formed and became denser.  Finally, just before the eclipse, a dense cloud rose from the West and spread over the sky.  The effects of the eclipse on mountains and clouds and sky were wonderfully beautiful, and the darkness at totality was impressive.  I managed to get  last contact through a pretty heavy cloud.  About 45 automobiles were scattered about, near the Observatory, and a few hundred people were there.  There were many moving picture machines.  After the eclipse was over, it gradually cleared off and I took time.  The night sky was beautiful.”

Wed. June 19th 1918: “Spent the afternoon at home writing in my observing book an account of instruments and observers at Chamberlin Observatory [for the eclipse June 8th].”

(Probably the last serious science attempted with the old refractor by HAHowe)

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Vol.6, No.2, May.1999

Thanks to local members of the National Association of Watch and Clock

Collectors—Al Baumbach and Bill Dillon—the two grandfather style clocks

on the main floor plus the telescope clock, all manufactured by Saegmueller

(Fauth) circa 1890, are now functional, once again.  The classroom clocks are

anchored into the main pier for stability, and track civil and sidereal

time, respectively.  The telescope clock tracks sidereal time as part of the

star wheel feature of the Saegmueller designed mount.  All three have 8 day

wind-up weights or springs, which means a regular activity to keep ‘em running.

All three clocks were subjected to well-meaning but inept amateur maintenance and repair over the past 1-2 decades, resulting in a sludge of dirty oil and mangled gear wheel repair attempts.  Al and Bill needed to take the innards to their clock shops and carefully clean and repair the mess, and in one case make from scratch a replacement piece.  With a clean bill of health and a set of maintenance pointers, we are hopeful these clocks will tick well into the new century.

If you want your “clocks cleaned”, we highly recommend these skilled craftsmen:

Al Baumbach, Old World Clocks, 303-756-2700
Bill Dillon, 303-755-0871
Evening stars: VENUS in the west, until late July

MARS in the south/west this summer

Morning stars: JUPITER, SATURN

MERCURY makes a brief appearance early July

Astronomy classes—

PHYS0050, 7-9pm Mon&Wed June 14-Aug.11 call Registrar at 303-871-2360 for info.


JUL 10/11 STAR STARE, Pikes Natl Forest (CO)

AUG 14/15 PERSEIDS, Foxpark (WY),


Chamberlin public programs update: 303-871-5172.

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Vol.6, No.1, Jan.1999

The past few months have been filled with remarkable historical finds associated with Chamberlin Observatory.  These are in addition to the coveted Howe diaries, of which years 1880-1901 are now resident in the DU Penrose Library Archives, and Grandson Howe continues work on summarizing the first decade of the 1900s in the next chapter of his The Pioneer Astronomer manuscript.

Papers and photographs have just been received from the family of Professor Recht (2nd Director, 1926-1959).  This interval has been less well documented and we are delighted to have copies of Prof. Rechts textbook A Space Trip for the Joneses (1959), his PhD thesis (1939, U of Chicago), an obit, and indication that a lunar far-side crater was named in his honor.  We are grateful to Rodney Recht and Phyllis Tully for providing these materials, which will be shared with the DU Archives, and excerpted here in the future.

Among the oral information assembled recently: Ms. Tully recalls that as a child, she would visit Uncle Al at the observatory, and distinctly remembers a large meteorite on a stand in the main basement.  This is the first mention of such an object, which is no longer to be found on the premises.  Does anyone else recall such an artifact or know of its whereabouts?

A couple of comments about equipment from the Student Observatory were made:

Al Baumbach recalls seeing a transit scope at a flea market along South Santa

Fe road sometime in the 1960s, which the vendor mentioned being from the DU

observatory.  Sadly it was not rescued.  Similarly, Jack Eastman reported that

during the same time, the student observatory supported a 10 inch Schmidt camera.  There is an early 1950s Sky and Telescope magazine article with photo suggesting that Prof. Recht and members of the then new Denver Astronomical Society had installed said item.  We still have some parts of this optical system.

Also received from Ben Vernon and Kathy Kennedy, copies of the blueprints for the 1892 University Park home built by Howe. 

Finally, the neighborhood fundraising and offers of help have precipitated a volunteer effort by several local clock repairmen to rehab the observatory stopped timepieces.  We thank these members of the National Antique Watch and Clock Collectors.

Report on the recent Leonid Meteor shower—

In our last edition, the predictions for a memorable meteor shower in late November were touted.  Indeed, the event was remarkable, altho not quite as dramatic as feared.  Astronomers from DU and the Denver Museum teamed up and videotaped the event from east of Denver, and recorded several fireballs overnight Nov. 16/17, despite pesky clouds.  World-wide, rates as high as 250 meteors per hour were reported, which represents a 10 fold increase over the usual annual shower.  Altho conditions suggest a repeat of this in Nov.99, the bright moon will interfere with seeing the fainter meteors.

We are pleased to note that the Leonid expedition included DU’s newest faculty astronomer, Dr. Laura Danly.  In an unique double appointment, she is also Curator of Space Science at the Denver Museum of Natural History, and charged with development of the large, new space science exhibit at DMNH.  She has taught at Pomona College, and is expected to teach DU classes starting next fall.  Her research interests include HST spectroscopy of physical processes in the diffuse interstellar medium between stars.

The Howe Diaries:

As previously mentioned, a major find of 40+ years worth of annual personal diaries by Chamberlin Observatory’s first Director, Prof. Herbert A. Howe, have illuminated the early years of both the Observatory and DU.  In this regular feature, we provide a look into some of the interesting facets found in these pages, courtesy Howe’s grandson, Herbert J. Howe, who is compiling a biography based on these.  Part One: Origins of Chamberlin Observatory—

extracts from the Diaries © H.J.Howe, The Pioneer Astronomer, with permission.

Feb. 7th 1888 -- Chamberlin’s offer; June 13th—original gr oundbreaking at a site west of current location; October—final site selection;  Nov. 29th, 1889 -- excavation begins at present site.

Jan.2nd 1891 -- “Mr.Roeschlaub said he had ordered the finishing up of the little observatory.  Attended a reception at Mrs. Warren’s in the evening at which Mr.Chamberlin was.  After looking at the observatories, he told me privately of his desire to endow the observatory and asked me to write out a plan of work for the ensuing year, in case he made arrangements for me to devote all my time to the observatory.”

March 8th—“Found Mr.Law coming out of the E.L.C. room and raked him over the coals.  Later I found him talking with another young man who ought to have been in recitation, and gave him a good talking to.

May 9th—dome construction begins; ribs up by 5/27; photos.

June 11th—Reference to “the transit pier and the photo-engine pier”

during construction.

Jun.17th—“I spent a great deal of time writing a description of where the electric wires in the observatory ran through partitions, etc.

Jun.18th—“Went to town in the forenoon and stirred up matters at the architect’s office so that Mr. Roeschlaub, Mr. Powell and Mr. Lyon came out in the afternoon and pointed out the defects in the building to them.

Jul.22nd—“The cement workers began laying the floors, putting down one inch of cement on a foundation of gravel well wet down and trampled.

Jul.28th—“Men finished the transit shutters, or their first attempt at them.

Aug.29th—“Mr. Law moved into the observatory as janitor.

Sept.28th—“Mr. Chamberlin is willing to have the observatory

calcimined (?) “in a tint”

Oct.12th—“...the pillar for the big telescope was to be hoisted into position.

Nov.26th—“On Thanksgiving, 2 years ago, the observatory was begun.

Dec.5th 1891 -- “Took more books etc from the house to the observatory.

Mar.4th1892 -- “A letter from Saegmuller says that he has written

to Mr.Chamberlin to get permission to exhibit the big telescope at the World’s Fair. (Chicago 1893)

(to be continued)

HONOR ROLL:  There have been many supporters of Chamberlin Activities, and we again salute those who have recently pledged volunteer time and/or money to keep the Chamberlin Observatory astronomy program alive:  Denver Astronomical Society; University Park Community Council, University of Denver Physical Plant; Denver Parks and Rec.  Also, very special thanks to the Silverman Family Foundation, the Marlar Foundation, the 1772 Foundation, M.G. and B.K. Kullas, Rodney Recht and Phyllis Tully, The Huzyks, and The Kesters.  We also salute Russ Mellon for rebuilding the tailpiece/eyepiece end of the Chamberlin telescope.  

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Activities of the Friends of Chamberlin Observatory 
1. The Howe Diaries “Come Home”: 

We are delighted to announce that a collection of annual personal diaries—

penned by Chamberlin Observatory’s first Director, Prof. Herbert A. Howe—

are now resident in DU’s Penrose Library Archives. Prof.Howe’s grandson,

Herbert J. Howe and his wife Beverly, brought the diaries to DU in early

August of this year.  The books illuminate the early years of the Observatory,

neighborhood and DU in ways heretofore unknown.  The ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS

provided a 2 page story on this important historical find, Oct.4th (the article).   

Herbert J. is compiling a biography and 
family history based on these.  Stay tuned.

University Park Heroes: Under the able direction of Carolyn Etter, University

Park neighbors hosted a highly successful series of summer garden parties with

the goal of providing funds for continued Chamberlin restoration activities. 

At a recent meeting, she announced that $7,500 was available as a result, for

support of new work on or related to the historic observatory.  Among the

prospects are: window repair, outside lighting improvements, solar power

roofing, and possibly underwriting publication of H.J.Howe’s synopsis of the

Howe diaries.  Proposal details will be reviewed by the neighborhood committee

early next year, but comments, ideas and inquiries may be addressed to

HONOR ROLL:  There have been many supporters of Chamberlin Activities, and we again salute those who have recently pledged volunteer time and/or money to keep historic Chamberlin Observatory astronomy program alive:  Denver Astronomical Society; University Park Community Council, University of Denver Physical Plant; Denver Parks and Rec.  Also, very special thanks to The Silverman Family Foundation.


Be a good neighbor—think about your outdoor lighting: aim the light down

and only where you need it.  Light trespass and glare can be as obnoxious as

excessive noise and odors.   For environmentally friendly lighting, conserve

energy by using lower wattage, timers and/or motion sensors.   Safe, efficient

lighting and dark skies can be compatible.

WHILE SUPPLIES LAST, magnetic media results from DUs new     

Mt.Evans High Altitude Observatory are available:

NEW: “Images, Data and Texts, 1998” CDROM 250Megs, Win or Mac.

“First Light, Mt.Evans Observatory” (video 20 min. 1997)

“DU’s New Mt.Evans Observatory” (video 13 min. 1996)

$10 each, shipping and handling included.

Previous newsletter(s) Email: Prof. Stencel

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