February 28, 2013
The cylindrical building of the Manila Observatory was constructed to house one instrument, a spectroheliograph. Developed by George Hale in 1890 for his senior thesis in MIT, the spectroheliograph is an instrument used in astronomy and astrophysics to take photographic images of the sun.
This 1960s spectroheliograph is three stories high. Modern ones no longer need an entire building to house them.
The Manila Observatory no longer uses this spectroheliograph, but ideas to convert or repurpose it all proved to be too expensive.
A museum offered to buy it from the observatory, but the board of directors decided to say no. It is an important part of the history of the Manila Observatory and the Jesuits in the Philippines, after all.