Magnetic variometer (1 of 2)

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made in London, used at Eskdalemuir

Postcard of Magnetic variometer (1 of 2).
© National Museums Scotland

Magnetic variometer (1 of 2)

This is part of a variometer, which recorded variations over time of the components of the Earth's magnetic field, from the Observatory set up at Eskdalemuir, near Langholm, by the National Physical Laboratory. The design is known as the Kew Pattern Magnetometer, first described in 1859 by John Welsh (1824-59), Superintendent of the British Association's Kew Observatory in Surrey, which later became the National Physical Laboratory.

This photograph shows the central part of the magnetometer, with its wooden lid removed, which contains the clock box: three revolving cylinders bearing sensitive photographic paper which recorded the movements of the three magnets which give variations in declination, and in the horizontal or vertical planes. The entire apparatus was kept in a darkened vault underground.

This instrument was considered a standard, and a considerable number were made for observatories all over the world. They were built by Patrick Adie (1821-86) of London, who worked closely with Welsh in developing meteorological and magnetic instruments.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-997-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1983.288
Date: 1908
Around 1908
What: Variometer, magnetic
Who: Adie (Possible maker)
Adie, London (Maker)
Where: England, London
England, London
Description: Magnetic variometer by Adie of London
  • For Patrick Adie and the magnetometer, see Clarke, T.N, A.D. Morrison-Low and A.D.C. Simpson. Brass & Glass: Scientific Instrument making Workshops in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989, pp 75-82. 
  • Stewart, Balfour. An account of the construction of self-recording magnetograph at present in operation at the Kew Observatory of the British Association. Report of the British Association ... 1859. London, 1860, pp 200-20. 
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