Monday, February 17, 2014

Presidents' Day: The Astronomy President

Portrait of John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams' Role in American Astronomy

By John E. Ventre, Historian for the Cincinnati Observatory
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

On the occasion of Presidents' Day we pause to reflect on the actions of John Quincy Adams. His role in establishing observatories during our nation’s early history played a crucial role in the cultivation of American Astronomy.


Adams worked hard to establish the Harvard College Observatory and the U.S. Naval Observatory. At the end of his life, he embarked on an arduous trip to speak at the laying of the corner stone for the Cincinnati Observatory, which by 1845 would have the second largest telescope in the world.

Throughout his public career, he strongly felt that, with more than a hundred astronomical observatories in Europe, it was important for America to establish a national observatory. A contingent of states-rights legislators in Congress blocked this project for many years. Finally, before his death, a modest-sized U.S. Naval Observatory was approved by Congress.

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Source: John E. Ventre, Historian for the Cincinnati Observatory, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss. He has taught Astronomy at the University of Cincinnati and served as the first Administrator / Director of the Cincinnati Observatory Center (the non-profit organization which now leases the Observatory from the University of Cincinnati and operates the Observatory).

Related Blog Posts ---

Centennial: New Allegheny Observatory Dedication (2012 Aug. 28):

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Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory History Video Now Available (2012 July 25):

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Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory: New History Film (2012 April 19}:

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2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

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