Friday, 19 December 2008

Astrographic Dome and Telescope

In 1888 the Astrographic Dome was built above the new Computing Room on the first floor of what is now called the Meridian Building. This is made up of the series of buildings that were built throughout the 18th and 19th centuries to house transit instruments, and is located along the south side of the Royal Observatory's courtyard.

This dome housed a 13-inch astrographic refracting telescope, that was acquired in 1890 in order to contribute to the international Carte du Ciel project for the photographic mapping of the skies. It was made by Sir Howard Grubb of Dublin and contributed to a regular series of photographs. It was used on expeditions to view solar eclipses in 1903, 1922, 1927 and 1929 and its object glass was taken to Brazil in 1919 on the eclipse expedition that helped to prove the validity of Einstein's theory of relativity. The telescope was taken to Herstmonceux in Sussex, the new home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, in 1958. The telescopes left behind when the institution moved to Cambridge in 1990 can still be seen at the Observatory Science Centre.

The Astrographic Telescope from E. Walter Maunder, 'The Royal Observatory, Greenwich: a Glance at its History and Work' (1900)

Rebekah Higgitt

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