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An antique 18 inch refractor!

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#1 Kiwi Paul

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 03:01 AM

Hi there,

I usually post in the Major and Minor Planets imaging forum, but I recently had an experience I thought you might like to hear about.

I live in New Zealand and my wife and I were recently on a short getaway break and went down to the southern part of the South Island. We arrived in the township of Tekapo which lies within the one of the world's few dark sky sanctuaries. Up on the nearby hill the Mount John Observatory run by the University of Canterbury can be found with New Zealand's largest telescope (a 60 inch reflector I think). Anyway, when we stopped in the town, there was a new building, in fact an observatory. When I saw it I thought some of the Astronomy Tourism activities might be taking place from within the town as well as on top of Mount John.

So I went inside and was gob-smacked by the sight that met my eyes - a beautiful brass Victorian 18 inch refractor. I could hardly believe my eyes that such an instrument was located in New Zealand. And this thing is really big as you can tell by the step ladders in the background.

18 inch refractor Lake Tekapo 30% b.jpg

Try as I might, I couldn't seem to get the image to display in portrait. The story of this telescope is told in the following blurb:

18 inch refractor Lake Tekapo story 30%.jpg

It was amazing to read that Percival Lowell used this instrument to study Mars and as the story goes, he observed sun glint off the ice caps. It was also used to study Saturn.

Cheers Paul

Edited by Kiwi Paul, 18 May 2021 - 04:33 AM.

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#2 Stellar1

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 04:49 AM

Not only is this telescope an amazing piece of history it is an unrivaled work of art. It seems as though the caretakers know exactly what they have, it is presented beautifully!.


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#3 BFaucett

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 05:23 AM

Try as I might, I couldn't seem to get the image to display in portrait.

 
Paul,
 
A little assistance from me with the photo if that's ok with you.  An absolutely beautiful telescope with a fascinating history. Thanks for sharing it with us! waytogo.gif 
 
Cheers! Bob F. smile.gif
 
 
post-336020-0-45820900-1621324571.jpg

 

 


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#4 Voyageur

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 07:04 AM

What a beautiful telescope. And a good story. Thanks for sharing this with us, Paul. How I would love to see it in person!


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#5 Dbracknell

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 08:34 AM

An amazing find! I'm a bit of a history buff, this is awesome!
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#6 csrlice12

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 11:59 AM

Beautiful scope, glad it's being used again.  Scopes like this are getting hard to find.  Luckily, we have a similar 20" Clark at Chamberlain observatory in Denver, CO....these are not just scientific devices, but works of art.

Howe_gx_3.jpg


Edited by csrlice12, 18 May 2021 - 12:04 PM.

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#7 GSBass

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 01:05 PM

This is ours, 23” completed in 1882 for Princeton University and was the main instrument in their Halsted Observatory. The lens was figured by Alvan Clark and Sons of Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1933, the telescope was entirely rebuilt by J. W. Fecker Company. The U.S. Naval Observatory owned the telescope from 1964 until 1978, when it was offered to the School District of Greenville County. It’s at the roper mountain science center and they have public viewings on Friday nights

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#8 Gabby76

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 01:43 PM

A wonderful refractor with great history.

I hope it continues for many more years in such a fantastic location. 


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#9 Tyson M

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 02:15 PM

Some fantastic looking refractors here with unique history.


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#10 Kiwi Paul

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 04:48 PM

Hi,

 

Thank you all for the likes and interest in my story. It is wonderful to see the images and stories of those others old refractors posted on this thread. Many thanks for that. I have always loved refractors too. I would love to have a look through a refractor of this size. Hopefully I will be able to do that one day with the Brashear refractor. It certainly looks operational and the observatory dome opens. Thanks Bob F. for straightening up my image!

 

Cheers Paul


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#11 GSBass

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 04:58 PM

The views themselves are not as sharp as we have even through our small modern scopes, however when I looked at Orion through it I could see color, mostly green if I remember right, it’s been a while since I went up there

Hi,

 

Thank you all for the likes and interest in my story. It is wonderful to see the images and stories of those others old refractors posted on this thread. Many thanks for that. I have always loved refractors too. I would love to have a look through a refractor of this size. Hopefully I will be able to do that one day with the Brashear refractor. It certainly looks operational and the observatory dome opens. Thanks Bob F. for straightening up my image!

 

Cheers Paul


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#12 Star Shooter

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 07:02 PM

The link to the Brashear telescope restoration is http://www.brasheartelescope.org


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#13 tbundy614

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 07:43 PM

Thanks for sharing with us Kiwi Paul, always love seeing this type of historical info...I actually find the mount just as amazing as the scope itself, truly a work of art!


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#14 Kevin Barker

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 07:53 PM

I am pretty sure this telescope the Brashear 18 inch was once used by Percival Lowell at Mars Hill Flagstaff.

Perhaps he viewed his canals on Mars  through it?

 

In the 1980's I recall seeing it stored at the Yaldhurst transport museum.


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#15 Lentini

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 08:02 PM

Great pic and posts.



#16 Kiwi Paul

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 08:13 PM

The link to the Brashear telescope restoration is http://www.brasheartelescope.org

Thanks so much for this. I have had an initial look but will read the whole site and will probably end up donating.

Cheers Paul


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#17 Kiwi Paul

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 08:15 PM

I am pretty sure this telescope the Brashear 18 inch was once used by Percival Lowell at Mars Hill Flagstaff.

Perhaps he viewed his canals on Mars  through it?

 

In the 1980's I recall seeing it stored at the Yaldhurst transport museum.

Hi Kevin,

 

Hope you are doing well. Yes, the story that was displayed with the telescope mentions Lowell observing Mars with it but no mention of his seeing canals. He did apparently observe sun glint off the polar ice.

 

Cheers Paul


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#18 Kiwi Paul

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 11:49 PM

Hi,

 

Up until recently I had a D&G Optical 8 inch f/12 refractor which was a wonderful instrument and is pictured here pointing at Jupiter and Saturn last year...

 

8 inch refractor.jpg

 

I sold it to a local amateur astronomer because I had become very interested in imaging and from last year, the planets in particular. Of-course I ran into problems with the achromat distorting the colours of the target and had it in mind to correct its images by replacing the distorted colours using a mapping technique which I hadn't quite investigated fully. I wondered what images might look like through one of these big refractors and I found an image of Jupiter taken with the 36 inch Lick refractor (it seems very hard to find imagery from any of them??)

 

The following two images are Jupiter taken with my 8 inch f/12 scope and the second is the 36 inch refractor image (if you enlarge this image you do see more detail).

 

Jupiter 20200815 20_26_31_lapl6_ap53 66.jpg Jupiter-d69757b 36inch Lick Refractor DSLR.jpg

 

You can see from these images how the colour palette is distorted in both and how the 36 inch image does look a bit 'soft'.

 

So I am carrying on now with my imaging using reflectors.

 

Cheers Paul


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