October 20, 1780 — Harvard University organized America’s first astronomical expedition today. The goal was to record an eclipse of the sun by observing an event that lasted from 11:11 am to 1:50 pm.
Samuel Williams (23 Apr 1743 – 2 Jan 1817) was the American natural philosopher and clergyman who organized the expedition in Penobscot Bay, Maine, despite the fact that the town was held by the British enemy at the time.
The observers left about three weeks earlier, on 9 Oct from Harvard College, Cambridge, Mass.. A boat was supplied by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the four professors and six students.
On Oct. 20, they discovered a thin arc of the sun instead of its complete obscuration by the moon.
Words of Wisdom for October 20, 2016
“Every thing useful and beneficial to man, seems to be connected with obedience to the laws of his nature, the inclinations, the duties, and the happiness of individuals, resolve themselves into customs and habits, favorable, in the highest degree, to society. In no case is this more apparent, than in the customs of nations respecting marriage.”
— Astronomer Samuel Williams, 1780