This volume presents a comprehensive account of the origin, construction and use of the first major astronomical observatory in the southern hemisphere. Technical aspects, such as the instruments and their makers, the installation of the instruments and their initial problems, are described. In addition, the difficulties of founding a scientific institution in a remote colony are discussed in detail. The book includes a biography of the Cambridge-trained mathematician Fearon Fallows, the Observatory's first Director. The architecture, building methods and construction techniques are analyzed. There is also a wealth of detail on social aspects of life in Cape Town in the 1820s, including slavery and ecclesiastical matters. The book is unusual in the emphasis it gives to the human side of the story.
It will be of interest to historians of science, astronomers, and historians, particularly of early nineteenth-century South Africa.
`... this is an absorbing and scholarly book by an erudite author, being one of a series he has written on the scientific and cultural life of the Cape colony. I can highly recommend it.'
Journal for the History of Astronomy, 30:3 (1999)
List of Illustrations. Preface. 1. From Cockermouth to the Cape via Cambridge. 2. Cape Residence. 3. Birth of the Observatory. 4. Instrumentation. 5. Life at the Observatory. 6. No Bed of Roses. References. Index.