Kodaikanal Observatory

2 03 2013
Kodaikanal Observatory

Kodaikanal Observatory, c. 1907.
Image courtesy IIA Archives.

I think this photo demonstrates why I’ve lost interest in my current project and wish I could start working on a new one. The only caption I’ve seen attached to this image is “John and Mary Ackworth Evershed, Kodaikanal.” The Eversheds arrived at Kodaikanal Observatory in January 1907. John had (reluctantly) accepted the position as “European Assistant” to the observatory’s director, Michie Smith, arriving in India after a productive visit to the solar observatory on Mt Wilson. Not surprisingly, most of Evershed’s time at the observatory was spent installing and then using spectroheliographs to study the spectra of sunspots. He became the observatory’s director in 1911.

All very interesting, I’m sure, but what I want to know: how can this possibly be a photo of “John and Mary Ackworth Evershed” when it includes sixteen other people, fourteen of whom are obviously not “European Assistants”? Colonial astronomy drives me crazy, it really does.