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Royal Observatory and RGO Solar Eclipse expedition records, 1896 - 1954

Reference Code: GBR/0180/RGO 169

Scope and Contents

A set of files relating to British expeditions to observe solar eclipses. The record is incomplete and mainly consists of notebooks and correspondence re equipment and supplies. Included are notebooks listing photographic plates for the solar eclipses of 1900, 1901, 1905, 1912 and 1914 [RGO 169/1], notebooks listing equipment for the 1905 and 1932 eclipses [RGO 169/2 and 5], and correspondence regarding preparations for the UK-based observation of the 1927 eclipse [RGO 169/4]. The 1940 eclipse file includes offprints and data sheets [RGO 169/6]. Sets of three Nautical Almanac Circulars on total solar eclipses of 1896, 1898 and 1901 are included at RGO 169/8.

The most complete set of records covers the 1926 total solar eclipse expedition to Sumatra [RGO 169/3]. The eclipse was of particular astronomical interest because of its relatively long duration, 3-4 minutes, and because the sun was almost at its maximum sunspot period. The files include notebooks recording instruments and plates, preparatory documents including a sketch of the camp, manuscript and typed reports, photographs of spectra, correspondence, and a contemporary news cutting showing the British Expedition team.


  • Creation: 1896 - 1954


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


0.028 cubic metre(s) (2 archive boxes) : paper and photographs

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Internally generated records, Royal Greenwich Observatory.

Related Materials

Further eclipse papers are found in the wider RGO archives, e.g. papers of the various Astronomers Royal (RGO 1-13), Papers of Philbert Melotte (RGO 74/4), and the Maunder Papers (RGO 205/2). For the 1919 eclipse expedition, see RGO 8/123, 8/150, and 8/166-167.

Photographic plates from Royal Observatory and Royal Greenwich Observatory eclipse observations are administered by the Bodleian Library. Please contact the Bodleian for further information.


For a summary of the Royal Greenwich Observatory's involvement in eclipse expeditions see A.J. Meadows 'Greenwich Observatory. Vol. 2: Recent History' (London, 1975), 88-95.


Royal Greenwich Observatory


Catalogued by Dr Emma Saunders, February 2018.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom