Preserving Large, Historic Observatory Class Telescopes
Bart Fried, Antique Telescope Society Founder and AOSNY member
Please join us at 1:30pm for our January General Meeting. This first meeting of 2023 includes a presentation from Amateur Observers’ Society member Bart Fried. Bart will present Preserving Large, Historic Observatory Class Telescopes: Three Case Studies Highlighting Three Completely Different Approaches.
In the 19th century in the United States, any college or university worth it’s salt had to have an observatory in order to compete for students. Not just useful for teaching astronomy or for research, the telescopes were icons on the campus, perched on a high point or on top of a prominent building, a beacon for all to see how science held a prominent position in the institution. And the bigger the telescope and dome, the better. But in many cases, encroaching light pollution, high rise buildings, demand for space and the advancement of “big” astronomy done with huge telescopes or, later, space based telescopes caused a cataclysmic downfall for many of these telescopes. This forced institutions to make serious decisions, sometimes fatal for the telescopes and domes.
Lately and fortunately, there is a reverse trend underway due to recognition that these telescopes can serve additional functions of outreach, inspiration and once again, research and education. Three such telescopes will be presented. The 12-3/8 inch Clark-Sellew refractor, formerly at Rutherfurd Observatory in New York City; the 12 inch Brashear-Warner & Swasey refractor formerly at Dudley Observatory, and the 12-1/2 inch Brashear-Warner & Swasey refractor formerly at McMillin Observatory, Ohio State University. These three were selected since they are all approximately the same vintage and the same size. How and what became of them highlights differences in approach which can lead to success for the telescope … or not!