Home > Astronomical History, Ephemeris Program > 02/15/2016 – Ephemeris – President Lincoln’s visit to the Naval Observatory

02/15/2016 – Ephemeris – President Lincoln’s visit to the Naval Observatory

February 15, 2016

Ephemeris for President’s Day, Monday, February 15th.  The Sun will rise at 7:43.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 6:10.   The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 2:44 tomorrow morning.

In August of 1863, during the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln and his secretary John Hay rode out to the Naval Observatory where it was back then in Foggy Bottom.  The astronomer there Asaph Hall showed them the moon and the star Arcturus through the observatory’s telescope.  A couple of nights later Lincoln came out alone to ask the astronomer some questions about what he saw, in including why the Moon was upside down in the observatory telescope while the telescope he used gave a right side up image.  Fourteen years later Asaph Hall, still at the Naval Observatory, discovered the two satellites of Mars through the observatory’s then larger telescope.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Old Naval Observatory

The old Naval Observatory. From the Astronomy.com web site.

9.6 inch refractor

The 9.6 inch telescope through which Lincoln viewed the Moon and Arcturus on the night of August 22, 1863. From the Astronomy.com website.

The above images are from the excellent post Lincoln and the cosmos by Kirk R. Benson, USN Ret. on the Astronomy Magazine website.

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  1. Sharon Fidler
    February 15, 2016 at 8:51 am

    As someone who has rekindled a passion for astronomy at the age of 70, I appreciate your short daily shots of basic information. And nice to connect with Lincoln over astronomy in today’s entry. Imagine taking time in the midst of war to contemplate the universe!

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