Campbell-Stokes recorder of duration of bright sunshine.

Purchased from Kew Observatory, England and installed at Melbourne Observatory in 1880.

Physical Description

Consists of a glass sphere mounted in metal bowl which is fixed upon a slate base & grooved on its inner surface to hold bent strips of card, with hours marked. Focused heat from the sun burns through the card, and the duration of sunshine is read off from the length of the burnt track.


This sunshine recorder was acquired by Melbourne Observatory from Kew Observatory in England in 1880, to begin the daily measurement of hours of sunshine. This type of instrument was originally devised in 1853 by J.F. Campbell and refined by George Stokes in 1880.

The collecting of meteorological data was an important aspect of Melbourne Observatory's work from its inception in 1863. Its meteorological service provided up to date weather information and forecasts that were essential for shipping and agriculture.

By 1870 Government Astronomer Ellery had a well organised system in place. Meteorological instruments on the east of the Observatory site automatically recorded temperature and air pressure.
From 1881 Melbourne Observatory provided the newspapers with a daily weather map of Australia and a forecast of the day's weather. Information and forecasts were telegraphed to the country stations each afternoon.

Meteorology was one of the specific functions listed in the Australian Constitution to be taken over by the Commonwealth Government, and in 1907 several Melbourne Observatory staff were transferred to the new Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology.

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