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Williamstown Observatory

This small astronomical observatory was established by the colonial government at Point Gellibrand in 1853 at the suggestion of R.L.J. Ellery, who became director. Its main function was to provide a time service. A ball erected on a tower, visible from Hobsons Bay, was dropped at 1 p.m., enabling ships to rate their chronometers. Simultaneously, telegraph signals activated time balls at Melbourne, Geelong and later Queenscliff. The observatory also provided a precise determination of Melbourne's longitude. To support the geodetic survey of the colony, begun in 1858 under his direction, Ellery began a program of determining the positions of the more prominent southern-hemisphere stars. The observatory closed in 1863, when its instruments and the work they supported were transferred to the new Melbourne Observatory.

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