Astronomical Observations made at Deerfield (Massachusetts) on the Comet of 1811; on the Variation of the Magnetic Needle, and for determining the Latitude & Longitude of that village.
The various distances of the comet, and lunar distance, and the meridian & other altitudes of the sun, moon and stars in the following observations, excepting the altitudes for the variation of the needle, were taken with a ten inch best metric Sextant, made by Jones of London, and divided by nonius to 30 seconds. The index errors were determined by numeration of the sun's diameter, and allowed for in [illegible] observations with the Sextant. The azimuths & altitudes of the comet & those [illegible] the sun & stars for the variation of the needle were mostly taken with a Theodolite [illegible]nished with an excellent telescope
In 1811 a comet appeared, causing great excitement. Along with his teenage nephew Edward Hitchcock, Epaphras Hoyt studied the comet closely and kept a notebook of his measurements and observations. Near the end of his observations he noted:
every appearance indicates that the comet is fast receding from the sphere of vision; and yet leaving astronomers in the same perplexing uncertainty, with regard to the origin and (ultimate) design of these peculiar erratic bodies, which at intervals, come forth from their unknown recesses, alarming and confounding the ignorant and credulous, and exciting the curiosity and profound investigations of the explorers of the arcane of nature.