Group portrait of staff at Melbourne Observatory, in front of the East Transit Room, circa 1895.

Government Astronomer Robert Ellery retired in 1895, and was replaced by Pietro Baracchi, who became Acting Government Astronomer. The group portrait may date from around the time of Baracchi's appointment.

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Group portrait of staff at Melbourne Observatory, standing in front of the East Transit Room, circa 1895. Staff identified to date are: Rear, L-R: ?, James Mannix (messenger), ?, James Byrne (mechanical attendant) Front, L-R: Edwin Quayle? (meteorological assistant), Frederick Kemp (assistant astronomer), ?, Pietro Baracchi (chief assistant astronomer/acting Government Astronomer). The other staff are possibly: George Long (messenger and meteorological assistant), F. Ingamells (assistant astronomer), William Swan (assistant astronomer), William Wallace (assistant astronomer)


This is the only known group portrait of Melbourne Observatory staff from the 19th century, when the observatory was the leading scientific institution in Victoria, and the largest observatory in Australia. Based on the individuals in the photograph, it was probably taken around 1895, when Government Astronomer Robert Ellery had retired, to be replaced by Pietro Baracchi as Acting Government Astronomer and later as Government Astronomer.

The complement of staff was slightly less than it had been in the 1880s and early 1890s, as government budget cuts in repsonse to the 1890s recession forced two staff into early retirement. From 1898 the staff levels had again increased, with the employment of several young men and women to work as 'computers' analysing and reducing meteorological, magnetic and astronomical observations.

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