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Harvard College Observatory History in Images

This is a personal project collecting and documenting early images of Harvard College Observatory, focusing on the site at Observatory Hill (previously Summer House Hill). Buildings, instruments, people, and observations.

Disclaimer: all content here is solely my own views, and in no way represents the views of my employer, or anyone else. Also, I'm documenting things as I learn about them, so expect frequent errors. Corrections will occur without notice and without a changelog at this point.

George Phillip Bond

This page shows a list of all images tagged with "George Phillip Bond".

[link]1860 George Phillips Bond

Oh the irony.

The second director of the Observatory, taking over after his father's death in 1859, George Phillips Bond will serve as director for only six years, until his own death. He is considered the father of astrophotography, dedicating his short career to progress in this area. He and his father assisted John Whipple in his famous photographs of the moon, and it was George who brought them to Europe, where they were instantly famous. The heavily photographic programs of future directors Winlock and Pickering (with all the women computers doing the grunt work) will be built on foundations created by George Phillips Bond.

And despite all this, there are no known photographs of him at all, nor any portraits of any kind.

All we have is descriptions. His daughter Elizabeth offers hers:

"In person he was rather tall (a little under six feet) and slender, becoming, of later yearsm painfully thin. His hair was wavy and very dark, if not black; his complexion pale, and his eyes of the deepest blue, with a glowing spiritual light in them that transfigured the worn face, lending it a singular power and beauty quite apart from mere regularity of feature."bondmemorials

He was not the son destined to follow in his father's footsteps. His younger brother, William Cranch Bond Jr. was an avid astronmer and seen by some as the bright hope for the future of the Observatory. But he died at the end of his college career. Older brother George assumed the mantle of astronomy "with some reluctance" as a friend describes. George's first and greatest love was ornithology.bondmemorials

As if having no portraits isn't enough of a slight, it's also hard to find him now. Some online sources say he is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery as is his father. But he's not in the Mount Auburn Database. So I had a look for myself. The family Bond monument has many names carved in it. George's name and other details are carved into the back, behind the bushes. But it turns out that many family names have been added to W. C. Bond's monument, though they are interred elsewhere. After contacting Mount Auburn Cemetery, they were able to tell me that George is interred in Cambridge Cemetery, lot 305.

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