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His successor Henderson “gave to the world a catalogue of the principal Southern stars of an equal accuracy with the contemporaneous work of the best observatories in the Northern hemisphere, and which will in all time be regarded as the true basis of refined sidereal astronomy in the Southern hemisphere.” Henderson also made “by far the most accurate” measurement of the Moon’s distance then available.

Only the intervention of President van Breda of the Burgher-Senate prevented the ship’s captain from dumping the unbuilt observatory’s first load of instruments on the beach.

As it was, Fallows was allowed a room in the town granary, and the government eventually granted him one of the pre-fabricated huts intended for settlers at Algoa Bay.

(Engraving from Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1822).

Moving one of the large stones needed for the instrument peers at the Royal Observatory.

He also estimated (from observations of Jupiter’s moons) that Cape Town was nearly 300 km west of its position on his maps of the Earth.

The most notable early visiting astronomer at the Cape was Nicholas de la Caille, who spent two years (1751-53) charting the positions of almost 9 766 stars and measuring the shape of the Earth.From this hut (originally in Kloof Street) Fallows began observing the southern stars.His results from these early observations appeared as a catalogue of 273 ‘principal fixed Stars’ in the 1824 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.Not until 1829 could the main instruments be used for ‘the improvement of practical astronomy and navigation’ so that the work of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in the north could be complemented by the efforts of His Majesty’s Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope.But the construction was solid, thanks to Fallows and Skirrow (the Admiralty’s seconded clerk of works). What would you think if on putting out your candle to step into bed, you were to find one lurking beside the Bed?As its head the Admiralty chose a brilliant young Cambridge mathematician, astronomer and clergyman who had studied books on mathematics while working at his father’s loom. When the Reverend Fearon Fallows arrived at the Cape, he found himself landed in the wrong place (Simon’s Town) and with no way of getting his cargo of astronomical instruments to Cape Town except by putting them on another ship at his own expense.

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