The Barnard Observatory
Completed in 1859


Barnard Observatory constructed 1857-1859, photographed by Professor Edward C. Boynton, c.1860
(Click on the photographs for a larger view)

Chancellor Barnard designed the plans for the observatory at the University of Mississippi after visiting the observatory at Harvard, built in 1844. Barnard bought the four- volume Annals of the Harvard Observatory and used the plans outlined there for his Mississippi observatory. Both the University of Mississippi and Harvard drew their inspiration from the Poulkovo Observatory built in Russia in 1839. Barnard planned for the Univsersity of Misssissippi's Observatory to house the collection of physics instruments he had assembled and a new telescope deliberately built to be four inches larger than the one at Harvard.

The initial building was constructed in an H with the legs facing true north and south.The central dome was intended for the large telescope. The smaller domes on both wings were intended for a comet seeker and a smaller telescope. The east wing was designed as a residence for the professor of physics and astronomy. The remaining west and middle sections were for classrooms and laboratories.

The large telescope that Barnard had dreamed of was ordered from Alvin Clark & Sons. Due to the outbreak of the Civil War, it was never delivered. Barnard's telescope was subsequently purchased by the Chicago Astronomical Society in 1863, and was given in trust to Northwest University in 1887. That telescope, together with Barnard's collection of physics instruments, would have allowed the University of Mississippi to become the foremost institution in America in the study of physics and astronomy.

The Barnard Observatory stands today on Grove Loop, to the right of the Lyceum. (See 1861 map) It currently houses the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

The Annals of the Harvard Observatory are currently kept in the Archives and Special collections in the John D. Williams Library, University of Mississippi.

The Millington & Barnard Collection of 19th century physics instruments are now part of the collections in the University of Mississippi Museums. Selections of the instruments are on display at all times.

Above, right:
Students in front of the Barnard Observatory c. 1860.
Notice the man wearing a kepi, Civil War style military hat. (shown right)

Poulkovo Observatory

Below: Rare inside photograph of the Observatory in 1903.
click to enlarge

Click here to see photographs from
the Magnetic Observatory/"Dead House"
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