Gazing on eternity
He counts the number of the stars, and gives each one its name.
Watching the stars can be like looking into eternity. It has been an inspiration to human beings since their most ancient beginnings. Thanks to the inspired actions early in the last century of Jesuit Fr Edward Francis Pigot the observatory at Riverview College in Sydney has provided a focus for such star gazing as well as much valuable scientific activity.
Fr Pigot came to Riverview in 1907, having been working at various observatories around the world. He began meteorological observations in 1908 and seismographic observations in 1909. He travelled to observe solar eclipses in Bruny Island, Tasmania (1910), the Tonga Islands (1911) and Goondiwindi, Queensland (1922). The college was presented with a Cooke seven-inch refracting telescope in 1922 and he began a program of study of variable stars. The observatory also keeps records of solar radiation.
Fr Pigot died at North Sydney on 22 May 1929 he is buried in the Society of Jesus grave at Gore Hill Cemetery. The work he began 100 years ago continues today and is still used by the scientists of the 21st century. The extraordinary image by Fr Michael Hansen sj shows how the scientific work of the observatory founded by Fr Pigot and developed further by Jesuits since has also been a source of imagination and inspiration.
Above: The universe revealed – A graphic image by Michael Hansen sj of the Riverview Observatory.