1. List of all papers presented at meetings of the Antique Telescope Society



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which focuses on the Craig telescope. However, Slater is known to have built additional telescopes, including a 15 inch refractor for his own personal use. Discussed here is the only known (to this presenter) optical tube assembly (OTA) manufactured by Thomas Slater to have survived. This is a 6 inch f 13.4 wood/brass composite OTA. An original set of five eyepieces also survives. The OTA face plate is marked "Slater....London". The 6 inch Slater OTA is a pleasure to use, gives generally good images with modern eyepieces, and its lens is rated at 1/4 wave upon analysis by D&G Optical. However during high power star testing the OTA revealed significant problems with tube flexure. During this presentation the history of Thomas Slater, the Craig telescope, and the existing 6 inch OTA will be discussed. The 6 inch Slater will also be available for direct examination.

Robert Simcoe, presented by Bart Fried.

Digitizing the Harvard College Observatory Plate Collection: An Instrument for the "Historic Sky.

At the Antique Telescope Society convention held in Philadelphia in 1995, Dr. Elizabeth Griffin discussed the dire need to save from potential destruction astronomy's collections of historic astronomical photographs. Over a million images taken at research observatories since the 1880's have been stored with varying levels of care at these institutions, and in many cases the images are at risk of loss due to neglect, poor storage conditions, natural decay or simple lack of funding for storage. Until recently, the ability to transfer the images to the digital realm has been technologically unfeasible. Now, a new system is poised to digitize the 600,000 plus images stored at Harvard University at a record pace. If successful, it will be used at other institutions as well, giving a new lease on life to the million plus images stored around the world, and making them accessible to researchers everywhere.
Thomas Dobbins.

Telescopes with Second-Surface Mirrors.

Attempts to use second-surface mirrors in telescopes have met with mixed success, ranging from Isaac Newton's abortive efforts in the 17th century to Ludwig Schupmann's medials of the early 20th century to the modern Argunov/Klevtzov catadiptrics. Motives for using this type of optic have varied over the years, from an early desire to avoid the tarnishing of speculum metal to the unique optical properties of the "Mangin mirror" that allows chromatic aberration to be all but eliminated without recourse to exotic glass types.

Gayle H. Riggsbee

Restoration of an 8 inch Clark by the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club.

I recently completed a three pronged project that consisted of restoring an antique telescope, finding and restoring a dome to house the telescope and finding the financier who could get the job done.

The project began with the donation of an 8” f/15 Clark Corp. refractor by Robert Ariail. The telescope had been in his collection for many years but was not in good condition and some parts were missing. The donation was to the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club with some conditions. The club had to restore, house, insure and use the donated telescope.

A four meter observadome was found which had previously been removed from Gardner-Webb University’s observatory in Boiling Springs, NC. The dome had been at several locations over the past several years. One use was a home for junk yard dogs. The last owner of the observadome was persuaded to trade it for a new but smaller fiberglass dome.

The restored telescope and dome were to be located at our club’s observing site in upper South Carolina.

In late summer of 2004, ground work and a concrete floor were completed. New walls were designed and built along with a new pier to hold the 500 pound Clark mount. All the work was paid for by a $10,000 donation by one of our club members. Any overrun was to be picked up by the club. The project was completed in March of 2005.

John Allseits.

The Retrieval of a 10-inch f/15 J.W. Fecker Refractor from the U. of Alabama.

A presentation of color slides, illustrating the transfer of a vintage 1950 J.W. Fecker 10-inch f/15 observatory refractor, GEM & pier, from the U of Alabama observatory to rural northwestern Illinois.

Shows the dismantling & removal by university personel (fall, 2004) plus the warehouse pick-up & transfer to Illinois (summer, 2005). (The latter accomplished by ATS members John Allseits & Jon Slaton, just days before demolition of the old university warehouse...!)


Craig B. Waff.

“Providence … will send us a fitting telescope”: The Founding of Amherst College’s Lawrence Observatory and the Acquisition and Installation of its 7.25-Inch-Aperture Clark Refractor.

The founding of Amherst College’s Lawrence Observatory (1848) and the acquisition and installation of its 7.25-inch-aperture Clark refractor (1854) were notable events in several respects. Amherst was among the earliest of American colleges to establish an astronomical observatory and just the second (after Williams College) to acquire a Clark refractor. As far as we know at the moment, the college’s refractor was the ninth manufactured by Alvan Clark & Sons, the sixth actually purchased, and the first to be equatorially mounted. Documents in the Amherst College Archives and contemporary news articles will be used to provide a more detailed account of the observatory and telescope than those provided earlier by Edward Hitchcock, William Tyler, and David Todd.

Jonathan Jennings.

The theft and recovery of the Cincinnati Astronomical Society 8-1/4 inch, 1880, Alvan Clark lens.

This paper is written from my point of view as trustee, and later Vice President, of CAS leading the recovery effort. The paper begins with a third-person recounting of the discovery of the location of the lens by Robert Ariail. This is followed by a third-person recounting of the initial investigations by John Ventre whom Robert Arial spoke with. The rest of the paper is a first hand recounting of the events leading up to, during and immediately after the recovery of the lens.

Paul Nohr.

Cleaning, Repair and Modification of a Historic Telescope.

The eleven-inch Merz and Mahler refractor at the Cincinnati Observatory was purchased in 1842 and went into operation on Mt. Adams in April 1845. Since then it has been moved twice and at times suffered neglect and modifications to extend its usefulness. Today it is the workhorse for nearly all public and education programs at the observatory.

I propose to provide a very brief history of the telescope prior to 1978 when responsibility for the operation of the observatory was handed over to the Physics Department at the University of Cincinnati. The condition of the instrument (and observatory), preserved in slides, will demonstrate the need for the work done and, perhaps, help justify some of the decisions made at the time.

Refurbishing the telescope began in 1978 and took a little over one year to complete. While the history and antiquity of the instrument were not forgotten, other concerns held higher priority so there was no attempt to restore this famous antique. Slides will be used to illustrate a number of interesting stories about my as-you-go training while the telescope cleaned, repaired and put the back into operation.

Dean Regas.

The Cincinnati Observatory's Collection of Lantern Glass Slides--Snapshots of Life at the Observatory.

The Cincinnati Observatory Center recently catalogued 1200 glass plates from its long lost archives. This unique collection includes star gazing expeditions of the late 1800s and early 1900s and astronomical slides from other observatories, as well as glimpses into the heritage of the Cincinnati Observatory itself. Although the collection has been digitally scanned, this presentation will delve into the 25 best slides using a period projector.

Craig Niemi

America's First Astronomical Publication, the Sidereal Messenger.

In 1842, Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel founded the original Cincinnati Observatory. As director of the nation’s first professional observatory, Mitchel served in many capacities and was charged with the responsibilities to take care of the Society’s property, conduct observations and make new discoveries, gratify the curiosity the members, and to give a course of lectures each year to which admission might be charged.

In 1846 Mitchel published the first popular journal of astronomy. In an era where periodicals were being conceived of and published at an explosive rate, the “Sidereal Messenger” was unique in its appeal to both trained astronomers and interested members of the general public.

My presentation will briefly explore the rapid development of American periodicals; Cincinnati’s becoming the birthplace of American astronomy; and details of the content and physical construction of Mitchel’s “Messenger”. Copies of the “Sidereal Messenger” will be on display for limited examination.

Don Osterbrock.

Becoming an Observatory Director in Pre-Civil-War America: O. M. Mitchel, 1828-1845.

Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel, who raised the funds to build the Cincinnati Observatory, with its largest refractor in America until the Harvard College Observatory was completed, had practically no training in astronomy except what he picked up on his trip from Cincinnati to Munich and back in 1842. His formal education was at West Point, and he was very good on simple mathematics from boyhood. In Europe he followed almost exactly the path William H. C. Bartlett, his friend, teacher, and mentor at West Point, had pioneered a few years earlier.

In this paper I will tell about the various astronomers and opticians whom Mitchel met and debriefed on stagecoaches and railway cars, and in Philadelphia, London, Paris and Munich, paying special attention to Johann von Lamont and his Merz and Mahler 11.5-in refractor that was the model for the Cincinnati "Great Refractor." I will also mention the other Merz and Mahler refractors, some in Europe, and the duplicates of them sold to America. I will show slides of several of the telescopes and astronomers.


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2 November 2005


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