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OAL - Lisbon Astronomical Observatory

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#1 dUbeni

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Posted 11 June 2022 - 05:50 PM

I don't know if this is the right place, but it is definitely about classic telescopes.

 

Recently I visited the Lisbon Astronomical Observatory with one of our companions here on CN, mauigazer. I managed to book a one hour visit, that actually lasted a bit longer. The reason why I'm posting this visit is because I'm very curious about the manufacturer of the telescopes that were installed on this observatory: Repsold & Merz, Hamburg, Germany.

 

This observatory was commissioned around 1860, after long discussions in Paris, about parallax between the French astronomer Hervé Faye and William Struve, director of the Pulkova observatory in St. Petersburg. Faye came to the conclusion that the best place to observe and measure the star in question (#1830 Groombridge catalog) was Lisbon, Portugal, with an instrument specially designed by Faye for this purpose, a zenithal telescope. The news arrived fast to Portugal and D. Francisco de Almeida proposed in the parliament the construction of a new observatory, since the existing one belonged to the navy and was to close to the river, and was subject to fog. The king D. Pedro V agreed, gave some of his land and financed the project.

The project was developed by the French architect Jean-Francois Colson, and it is in fact a smaller copy of the Pulkovo observatory. The build started in 1861 and it was inaugurated in 1867. The main dome was also manufactured in Hamburg. William Struve helped choosing the equipment for the observatory.

 

The observatory has three main telescopes all manufactured by Repsold & Merz: A meridian telescope (135/2000mm), a zenithal telescope (160/2310mm) and a large refractor on the big central dome (380/7000mm).
There are other smaller refractors used for keeping time and teaching. Some of those small refractors have all very beautiful wooden tubes.

 

The construction is amazing, the piers for the meridian and zenithal telescopes are made with blocks of marble and are separated from the floor, both of these telescopes have a secondary housing that roll on tracks on the floor for protection of the instruments, even the gardens were planed to absorb the heat, and avoid heat plumes in it's surroundings.

 

Obviously I need to go back, one hour isn't enough to absorb so many instruments.

 

So, here are some pictures I took while visiting the observatory:

 

01 The entrance
It's impossible to take a full picture of the observatory. The date on the main entrance is 1861 when the construction started.
 
02 The meridian telescope
The meridian telescope and others were updated when electricity was first introduced in Portugal.
 
03  The chair Of The meridian telescope
This chair was specially designed to achieve a whole set of positions for the observer.
 
04 The chair To observe Low altitude stars
This chair enable the astronomers to observe low altitude stars, and it would be a dream for all those who have big long refractors.
 
05 The zenital telescope
This was the first zenithal telescope built on earth. Please notice the bench where the astronomers would lie down to observe.
 
06 The main telescope 380 7000mm
Definitely a beautiful telescope that could benefit from some restauration, apparently the optics are still in great condition.
 
07 again The beast
Hard to picture the whole thing, even with a 17mm camera objective.
 
08 The mount

Obviously the mount needs some dusting, but it still moves very smoothly, I moved this several tons beast on the declination axis with a couple of fingers.

 

09 The Two speed focuser
The main telescope has a two speed focuser, on the right is the rough focusing handle, and on the left is a geared fine focuser seen here.
 
10 A small 70mm refractor To keep time
There are two of these time keepers telescopes, and they were capable of keeping time within a 100th of second.
 
11 mauigazer And One Of beatiful wooden refractors
mauigazer and the telescope that was used for training the astronomers working at the observatory.
 
12 another wooden beauty
Unfortunately I don't have specifications for the two beautiful wooden telescopes displayed on the main hall, where astronomers did their calculations and studies.
 
13 And their EQ mounts
Their mounts.
 
14 A small beauty
Unfortunately I also don't know the specifications of this small Grab &Go telescope.
 
15 The eyepieces
The eyepieces and other small instruments are kept in showcases on the first floor.
 
16 The celestial globe
The two globes terrestrial and celestial, and most of the instruments are kept on their original places.
 
Here is a link to the history web page of the observatory (unfortunately it's only in Portuguese):
 
Clear skies
Bernardo

 

 

 


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#2 oldmanastro

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Posted 11 June 2022 - 10:29 PM

Thank you for the nice tour of this historical observatory and all those beautiful classic instruments.


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#3 dUbeni

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Posted 12 June 2022 - 09:00 AM

Thank you for all the likes.

The interior of the observatory is in pristine condition, but the exterior really needs a restoration. The main dome leaks, although the floor is protected with tarps.

The observatory is currently under the care of the Science Department of the public University of Lisbon. Currently it's only open on Wednesdays from 3Pm to 4PM. although you can schedule a group visit in advance.

According to guide, a professor of geology, there are a lot of old instruments in the basement waiting to be restored for public viewing. From what I gathered he really likes the place and all it meant for science.

 

cheers

Bernardo


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#4 jsiska

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Posted 12 June 2022 - 09:39 AM

Thank you for sharing. Very nice.


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#5 R Botero

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Posted 13 June 2022 - 02:14 AM

Nice write up and great historical observatory and instruments 😎👍 Seems you guys had a great time!

Roberto
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#6 Terra Nova

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Posted 13 June 2022 - 06:45 AM

Bom dia Bernardo! Obrigado! I worked on a project (non astronomical) in Portugal (Alentejo) in the 1980s and 90s and was in Lisboa many times. I’ve been to all the major sites there and somehow I missed the observatory. If I get back, it will be at the top of my list. I love your country and it’s people. Portugal é tão bonito!


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#7 dUbeni

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Posted 13 June 2022 - 09:50 AM

Thank you oldmanastro, Jim, Roberto, Terra, and those who liked it.

 

 

Bom dia Bernardo! Obrigado! I worked on a project (non astronomical) in Portugal (Alentejo) in the 1980s and 90s and was in Lisboa many times. I’ve been to all the major sites there and somehow I missed the observatory. If I get back, it will be at the top of my list. I love your country and it’s people. Portugal é tão bonito!

Bom dia Terra, Alentejo is my favorite region in Portugal, and now it has a large part of the eastern side certified by the Starlight Foundation as a "Starlight Tourism Destination", know as the "Dark Sky Reserve Alqueva": https://darkskyalqueva.com/en/

 

The Lisbon observatory was probably closed, I think it only opened to the public in 1994, and also the visits need to be booked in advance. So if you come by again just email me if you like.

 

Clear skies

Bernardo


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#8 CltFlyboy

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Posted 15 June 2022 - 07:18 PM

Bernardo,

 

I'm going to eventually move to Spain only about 45 minutes away from the Prades astronomy club (about an hour south of Barcelona on the coast, near Reus). As I understand, that's the biggest dark sky site in the EU. Any experience with them or astronomy in Spain?



#9 dUbeni

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Posted 19 June 2022 - 07:10 AM

Hi! Henry, No I haven't been there, or had any contact with the club you mentioned, but I'm sure you will be in good hands.

 

Cheers

Bernardo


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#10 Exnihilo

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 02:19 PM

Beautiful pics, thanks!  The wooden tube scopes are amazing.


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#11 Wildetelescope

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 06:48 AM

 

I don't know if this is the right place, but it is definitely about classic telescopes.

 

Recently I visited the Lisbon Astronomical Observatory with one of our companions here on CN, mauigazer. I managed to book a one hour visit, that actually lasted a bit longer. The reason why I'm posting this visit is because I'm very curious about the manufacturer of the telescopes that were installed on this observatory: Repsold & Merz, Hamburg, Germany.

 

This observatory was commissioned around 1860, after long discussions in Paris, about parallax between the French astronomer Hervé Faye and William Struve, director of the Pulkova observatory in St. Petersburg. Faye came to the conclusion that the best place to observe and measure the star in question (#1830 Groombridge catalog) was Lisbon, Portugal, with an instrument specially designed by Faye for this purpose, a zenithal telescope. The news arrived fast to Portugal and D. Francisco de Almeida proposed in the parliament the construction of a new observatory, since the existing one belonged to the navy and was to close to the river, and was subject to fog. The king D. Pedro V agreed, gave some of his land and financed the project.

The project was developed by the French architect Jean-Francois Colson, and it is in fact a smaller copy of the Pulkovo observatory. The build started in 1861 and it was inaugurated in 1867. The main dome was also manufactured in Hamburg. William Struve helped choosing the equipment for the observatory.

 

The observatory has three main telescopes all manufactured by Repsold & Merz: A meridian telescope (135/2000mm), a zenithal telescope (160/2310mm) and a large refractor on the big central dome (380/7000mm).
There are other smaller refractors used for keeping time and teaching. Some of those small refractors have all very beautiful wooden tubes.

 

The construction is amazing, the piers for the meridian and zenithal telescopes are made with blocks of marble and are separated from the floor, both of these telescopes have a secondary housing that roll on tracks on the floor for protection of the instruments, even the gardens were planed to absorb the heat, and avoid heat plumes in it's surroundings.

 

Obviously I need to go back, one hour isn't enough to absorb so many instruments.

 

So, here are some pictures I took while visiting the observatory:

 

 
It's impossible to take a full picture of the observatory. The date on the main entrance is 1861 when the construction started.
 
 
The meridian telescope and others were updated when electricity was first introduced in Portugal.
 
 
This chair was specially designed to achieve a whole set of positions for the observer.
 
 
This chair enable the astronomers to observe low altitude stars, and it would be a dream for all those who have big long refractors.
 
 
This was the first zenithal telescope built on earth. Please notice the bench where the astronomers would lie down to observe.
 
 
Definitely a beautiful telescope that could benefit from some restauration, apparently the optics are still in great condition.
 
 
Hard to picture the whole thing, even with a 17mm camera objective.
 
 

Obviously the mount needs some dusting, but it still moves very smoothly, I moved this several tons beast on the declination axis with a couple of fingers.

 

 
The main telescope has a two speed focuser, on the right is the rough focusing handle, and on the left is a geared fine focuser seen here.
 
 
There are two of these time keepers telescopes, and they were capable of keeping time within a 100th of second.
 
 
mauigazer and the telescope that was used for training the astronomers working at the observatory.
 
 
Unfortunately I don't have specifications for the two beautiful wooden telescopes displayed on the main hall, where astronomers did their calculations and studies.
 
 
Their mounts.
 
 
Unfortunately I also don't know the specifications of this small Grab &Go telescope.
 
 
The eyepieces and other small instruments are kept in showcases on the first floor.
 
 
The two globes terrestrial and celestial, and most of the instruments are kept on their original places.
 
Here is a link to the history web page of the observatory (unfortunately it's only in Portuguese):
 
Clear skies
Bernardo

 

 

 

Wow!

 

jmd


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