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"Harris, Susan Kumin" <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 5 Jun 2012 20:48:47 +0000
text/plain (33 lines)
The Elmira College Observatory had a "transit telescope" that Clemens may have been familiar with.  There was an active Academy of Science in the town, in which prominent figures participated, and the Observatory was open to town residents.   One of Olivia Lewis Langdon's (Livy's mother) diary entries for 1867 mentions the family (apparently without Livy), visiting the Observatory to look at the stars.

So if Clemens was in Elmira in '74 or '82 when the Transit occurred (and if it was not cloudy, whiich it often is in Elmira), it's quite likely that he and the family went to observe the event.  --susan harris

Susan K. Harris

Hall Professor of American Literature

University of Kansas

Author of God's Arbiters: Americans and the Philippines, 1898-1902

From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Taylor Roberts [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2012 1:48 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Transit of Venus

In getting ready for tonight's Transit of Venus, I wonder if SLC
witnessed the previous pair in 1874 and 1882.

I see mention of the astronomical phenomenon in "Some Learned Fables,
for Good Old Boys and Girls" but wondered if anyone was aware of any
letter(s) in which Clemens mentioned it at the time.

I should have looked this up earlier, just as I should have bought my
#14 welder's lens last week so as not to have to run all over town at
the last minute today (sold out in most places).

All the best,

Taylor Roberts
Toronto, Canada