OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU receives historical almanacs on astronomy

03/24/1998

CORVALLIS - Oregon State University has received a gift of rare, historical astronomical almanacs from the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., that date back 165 years.

The volumes contain annual meteorological measurements, historical announcements, articles and astronomical "ephemerides," or tables giving the computed positions of planets and stars. They will be housed in the Special Collections division of The Valley Library at OSU, said Ronald E. Doel, a faculty member in the university's History of Science Program who spearheaded OSU efforts to obtain the rare almanacs.

The volumes became available because of a space crunch at the Naval Observatory, which is the oldest federal astronomical facility in the U.S., according to Paul Farber, chair of the OSU history department.

"Oregon State successfully competed with other leading research institutions, including the University of Notre Dame and the eminent Linda Hall Library, an independent Kansas-based research library of science, engineering and technology, to acquire these free volumes," Farber said. "These almanacs record a wealth of information on rainfall, growing seasons and unusual natural occurrences, enhancing their value for environmental studies.

"They also will aid research and teach for OSU's program in the history science," Farber added.

More than 20 boxes of volumes have arrived at OSU, including the "Berliner Astronomischer Jahrbuch," "Connaissance des Temps," and the British "Nautical Almanac."