Letter to Meteorological Observers of the Smithsonian Institution

ID: SIA2010-0728


Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: June 6, 1872

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 60, Box 7, Folder: Aurora

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Letter written "To the Meteorological Observers of the Smithsonian Institution: The Ministry of Public Instruction in Italy, desiring to ascertain whether the aurora borealis makes its appearance simultaneously, or at the same moment of absolute time, on different meridians, have requested the Smithsonian Institution to procure information on the following points: 1. The time at which an aurora makes its appearance. 2. When it reaches its maximum. 3. When it begins to diminish. 4. When it ceases entirely. Please give this information, if possible, in regard to any aurora you have observed, especially with regard to those of the 4th--5th of February, 1872, any any you may hereafter observe. Very respectfully, Your obedient servant, Joseph Henry, Secretary Smithsonian Institution."


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Meteorological Project


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


After he was appointed Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Henry's first major project was to create the Smithsonian Meteorological Project by using a countrywide network of voluntary observers to record climate information and send it to the Smithsonian via the growing telegraph network. The Smithsonian Meteorological Project existed from 1846-1870 and led to the founding of the National Weather Service.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 60, Box 7, Folder: Aurora

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


June 6, 1872

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Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 8w x 10h; Type of Image: Document; Medium: Photographic print

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