Friday, January 25, 2013

The WPA works on Mercury

While doing some related work at the National Archives, I ran across the following WPA project:

"A Federal non-construction project to revise table of the orbit of the planet Mercury. Work includes revisiting reductions of the observations, including those made at the Naval Observatory and elsewhere from 1890 to 1936; comparing observations with Newcomb’s Tables of Mercury; forming and solving by least squares equations of conditions for corrections to the tables; and combining results with those of a similar discussion of all observations of Mercury before 1890 and used as the basis for the present tables." (National Archives-College Park, Record Group 69, Microfilmed Records of the WPA)

This was obviously a project for unemployed astronomers, mathematicians, or similar folks; showing once again that an effort was made to create useful jobs for every type jobless American.

(Image above is from NASA, at

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