Letter by H C Russell, 3 May 1871
3 May 1871
My dear Mr Kraft
Recently in going over old records of the Colony I found the following notice which may interest you.
“John Buff – poisoned by eating toad fish at Parramatta April 20th 1821 – he died in 20 minutes after eating it. (from Australian Almanac)
Yours very truly
H C Russell
Letter by H C Russell, 13 March 1871
591 and 592
13 March Observatory 
I was just about writing to you re returns when your letter came. I am sorry you should think that perhaps I considered New Caledonia of secondary importance. I would not have sent you the instruments had I done so. If you have ?? that they were not published, it is simply because they do not come in time for the monthly report and we are now working up the annuals and yours with the others. New Caledonia is an important point in the system which ?? to carry out and I would very much like to publish the obs monthly, if you could send them and as to get the return ….?? ?? and corrected manually occupies from 3 to 4 ?? if you could send the return within that time I could manage it. I mention this because now you have steam ?? perhaps it is possible.
I am much obliged for the obs about the hurricane and have sent it to the Herald. i.e. the ?? of it. I should very much like to know anything else you may hear about it as to where else it was experienced and when: during the time we had nothing but light easterly wind and high Barometer?? and it would be very interesting if possible to have the hurricane as such storms doubtless form part of that system of winds which give us ?? and easterly gales. I do hope you will not tire in the cause of meteorology, if there is one science more than another which demands patient labor, that science is meteorology.
As to my long silence; I have had so much to do with the eclipse expedition preparation for it and (since my return) working up arrears that I have been obliged to put off all but the most urgent demands on my time. but missing your returns I have for some time past been seeking an opportunity to write.
You have more variation in temperature than I should have expected from my recent trip to the north, but the Barometer is very steady as I expected. My last return from you is October 1871 which and the previous return the rainfall is almost identical with Sydney but in August you had two inches while we had less than ½ an inch.
Yours very truly
H C Russell
A. Hughan Esqre
Letter by H C Russell, 1 March 1901
John L Boyce Esquire
Master Of Ship Somoena
Our Time Ball at New Castle is dropped at 1pm Sydney zone time that is: exactly ten hours from Greenwich meantime. We drop at 1pm to give time to observe sun and correct clock, which then drops the ball and sends signals to Newcastle for five minutes to adjust Newcastle clock exactly. Newspapers here will not publish daily note of Time Ball and it is supposed to be in the Harbor Regulations.
Will you accept the enclosed with my compliments. Some interesting facts are coming out of the current papers.
Yours Very Truly
H C Russell
Letter by H C Russell, 25 February 1871
25th Feby 1871
At Grafton the Southern Cross never sets a portion of the constellation always remaining above the horizon. In January the Cross passes the Meridian below the pole about 3pm and as soon as it is dusk may be seen just above the horizon to 332??. At the present time as soon as it is dark it may be seen to 332?? a little above the Horizon and about 9pm in the same direction but about 30 degrees
high and in the position indicated here with two bright stars under it and as it were pointing to it.
It may also be found by a black place, like a hole in the Milky Way the Cross is just above it: at two o’clock in the morning you will find it due south but in this position and high up. the explanation of these changes is simply that it goes round the pole with the two stars a and b pointing to the south pole of the heavens and three stars are for this reason called the Pointers.
H C Russell
Letter by H C Russell, 14 February 1891
Feby 14th 1
My Dear Sir
With this I am sending a contact print of one of my photographs of the Nubecula Major. The negative was exposed for 7h 3m and it shows that the whole of the Nubecula Major is a complicated Spiral Structure. I thought you would like to see it. and it might interest the members of the conference. It was taken with a Dalmey [sic] portrait lens 6 inches….
The photograph is one of a series I have taken of the milky way and Nubecula Major & Minor while waiting for the lens from Sir Howard Grubb.
On the plate on the north side of the centre are 4 dark marks in a line. And on the preceding side a large dark mark. All these are faults in the plate left by the maker.
I have been using a developer which Mr E J Hunt A.M.L.C.E. has designed. It is in fact a modification of an old developer but it seems to me to be very much better for star photographs than any other that I am acquainted with. It gives brilliant contrasts and has the advantage that the development can be limited by time and not by what one sees. It might for instance be a resolution of the committee that all should use this and keep the plate 4 minutes in solution A and 2 minutes in solution B: I should be glad if the Committee would try some experiments.
I have done so and find that I get much better results: denser star points and more certain development; with this developer than with any other. The negatives I have sent were developed with it and not intensified.
Referring now to the Zones allotted to the different observatories. I should like to say, that I shall be glad to take any Zone which the Conference may allot to Sydney. I am anxious to do everything in my power to help in carrying out the work of the Conference. My reason for speaking of this is: that I shall not be at the Conference. And that I see you have received one letter objecting to the new allotment of Zones Proposed by the Committee.
Feby 14 1
Formula for Development
94 grammes sulpis sodae
2 grammes S….ylic acid
Alcohol 0.004 litre
Glycerine 0.008 litre
0.591 litre water
6 ½ grammes Bromide Ammonium
0.015 litre Ammonia .880 strong
0.591 litre water
To develop take of Solution A 0.059 litre and add to it at the time; 3 grammes pyrogallic acid. Pour this over the plate and keep it on the plate 4 minutes. Pour off the solution and pour on to the plate 0.059 of Solution B. Keep this on for 1 or 2 minutes and the development is complete. Then wash the plate and fix it as usual.
The plate must not be washed between the use of solutions A and B it is necessary to mix A and the pyrogallic at the time of using, it will not keep many hours it may be used for several plates.
With reference to the proposed methods for securing defined star magnitudes 11 and 14 on the photographic plates. I would submit the following considerations.
If the time necessary for exposure of the plate in order to secure the desired magnitudes is to be determined by experimental plates on well known test objects. It will often happen that in the course of the evening & night the translucency of the Atmosphere will change, and the plates for the chart of the sky will be too much or too little exposed. And this may very well take place without the knowledge of the Astronomer, hence it will be necessary either to have two telescopes simultaneously at work one pointed to the test object and the other to the plate, and test it by means of the stars of known magnitude on it. Of course it will not be possible to do this at the time. The plates would have to be developed and they would be wet and unfit for examination. Moreover the time lost would be a very serious delay, if indeed the work could be done in this way at all. It follows then that each negative plate must be examined when measured to see if the exposure has been right. If it has not been right. Then a correction derived from measures of the known stars on the plate must be applied to the magnitudes of the new stars which are found on the plate.
I think therefore that the best method of securing the desired magnitudes of the plates for the chart. Will be to expose the plates long enough to be sure they are there. It would result from this: that in the great majority of cases the plates would be over exposed and the correction to be applied to the star magnitudes would always have the sign -. and there would be a great saving of time in the work of taking the photographs of the sky. and the additional time given to measuring them would not be much. Because as I have before, pointed out the magnitude of each star on the plate must be examined. And if necessary corrected for any error of exposure, by the error found on known stars on each plate, and therefore since there will be few plates with exactly the right exposure and which require no correction it will I think be much better to have all the plates subject to a correction for magnitude derived from the known stars on it: and in this way save a great deal of time in taking the photographs for the chart.
The Telegraph Station Master
The Bearer of this letter Mr Slowman will see that the Instruments are properly erected and in good order.
And I shall be glad if you will give him any assistance he may require for that purpose and he will bring with him the old Instruments.
The new Instruments are sent in consequence of the determination to make Armidale a First Class Station. And In [sic] future it will be necessary for you to send me by telegraph the observations taken at 9am and 3pm each day: Sundays excepted.
I have the honour to be
Your Obedient Servant
Yours of 16th January duly received. I shall be much obliged to you for your Rain records and I am sending forms under separate cover.
With regard to the position indicated in your letter: I am in some doubt. in [sic] the best map I have Ivanhoe is placed 24 miles NNW from Mossgeil: and if your station is 32 miles in same direction from Mossgeil It could not very well be 36 miles east of Ivanhoe unless the maps are wrong.
Your letter says that Murrumbong is 32 miles NNW from Mossgeil & 36 miles east from Ivanhoe are your measures by road or direct?
Yours very truly
My dear Ellery
Many thanks for sending enclosed photo. I was anxious to see it. [sic] but there are some details that I was equally anxious about. [sic] that are not shown.
One of these is the plate holder. [sic] and the photo does not show how the plate is held. The eyepiece like extension seems curious. Does it mean that this is an eyepiece to see when the star is in the middle?
I know also Gill’s control modified by Grubb, the letter tells me it is perfect for 20m: I wonder how it corrects the errors of the screw itself?
I see they have given you a micrometer to the painter: with which you can march over the sky. I see Gill has exceeded the 20 minutes ?? (are?)from centre limit, and says that with a limit of 40 minutes he can get all the stars he wants. I have got nearly all I want in 20’ radius And mean to go to 40’ for the rest. Another thing I wanted to see & could not; and That is how he provides for adjusting the focus and fixing it when got. Gill’s idea was a sliding tube drawn in by 4 strong springs, and the distance between main tube, and slide adjusted by a collar; an[d] which are a series of circular wedges.
You will see I have departed from this, which for an instrument that requires to be as accurate as a transit instrument does not seem good enough; I have 4 screws the length of the distance screws is arranged by one screw working in the other. [sic] and through both goes another screw which clams the sliding tube to the main tube as separated by the adjusting screws.
The definition of my photo …. is very fine, but the polish is very poor. I have told Grubb about it, and he admits there were some scratches which annoyed him.
You must have got the [promise]d photo of my mounting today, and our letters have crossed. I will send you a photo of the plate holder when I get it done and I think I sent you photos of the driving clock an[d] Control, if not remind me of my sins & I will mend.
I am in a fix about plates I asked Mauchey for advice about them many months since and got no reply. [sic] and long since I sent money to Christie and asked him to have it expended in plates, and sent to me but they have not come. [sic] and I have ordered a sample from M.A. Seed the American maker recommended by the Henry’s [sic] & Pickering. I am using. [sic] the extra rapid “Ilfords”. but they are poor for our work. They have however according to the photographer’s [sic] here, one very good quality, they never strip.
I have been trying experiments when there is a chance as to star magnitudes. [sic] and I find that 60m on Nargus gives one a great many stars which Herchel(?) did not see and 35m some which he called 16 mag. I have one of Orion which was exposed 16 minutes and gives a star which Hershcel [sic] calls 14th magnitude.
On the general question. [sic] I cannot see much that is satisfactory: and I am trying to wait patiently for the promise of instructions which are to tell us how to do everything.
I think there is much need for such a book when all the circumstances are considered and if as suggested we are each night to take test photos of the selected places and then wait till they are developed and examined before taking the working photos, it will cause great loss of time.
I would like to talk the whole matter over with you and wish you would make it an excuse to come up and see my telescope. There are so many points to consider and in which we must work together; that if you will come here first: I will go to you later on, for I fear we cannot square it up all at one meeting. They seem awefully [sic] slow in that old world, in making up their minds what is to be done. It is as if every fellow was waiting to see how the other would jump. I will send you a silver print of one of my plates so that we may compare results as to definition. [sic] which there is another point on which there is a good deal to be said. My tube is of steel the whole length. [sic] and a change of 20 degrees in temperature would make a change in length of about 0.015in and a change of 0.01 makes a decided change of focus what is to be done with temperature changes?
However I must shut up: having worried you enough I am sure; if you have taken the trouble to read so far.
I have been terribly busy over this photo work lately. My only excuse for a long silence. Photo enclosed with many thanks shall be glad to get a photo of it.
19 Janry 1871
I have the honor to enclose herewith vouchers in support of the payment of £37.19.11 from the 1870 Vote for New Instruments.
I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant
H C Russell
The Under Secretary for Finance & Trade
18 Janry 1871
After waiting three months for a glass came to protect the Instruments the contractor J Dyer brought it this morning and it is about 18 inches longer than the place it was measured for. Shuts up a doorway that is in constant use and cannot be placed in the room intended for it, the only place I have to put it. The recess was to my knowledge measured twice for the size and once by a person I think the timekeeper from your offices!
In my requisition of October 7th I did not give the sizes thinking I might make a mistake. I shall be much obliged if you will have the case altered to the proper size as in the mean time several delicate instruments are unprotected.
I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant
H C Russell
The Colonial Architect