The Vatican Observatory (Popular Astronomy, 1903)

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This 1903 article in the magazine Popular Astronomy describes the Vatican Observatory after it had been re-established by Pope Leo XIII. Some photos are included in the article. The author, W. Alfred Parr, writes:

When towards the middle of the ninth century Pope Leo IV sought to stem the further ravages of the Saracen hordes by strengthening the defences of Rome and enclosing the Vatican hill with massive turreted walls, he could little imagine that these same walls, designed so well to bear the engines of war that were to dominate the country round, would, more than a thousand years later, be required by a successor and namesake to harbor a weapon of science of a potency little dreamt of in those days—a weapon whose range of power should penetrate to the confines of the unknown itself. For, after the conclusion of the International Photographic Conference on the charting of the heavens, held in Paris in 1889, it was on one of the strongest of the towers forming part of the ancient Leonine wall that the late Pontiff, Leo XIII, decided to erect the newly-ordered astrographic telescope which was to enable the Vatican Observatory, until that time somewhat meagrely equipped, to worthily enter the lists with the seventeen other observatories to whom the work of the chart had been allotted.

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