Restored Calver Telescope

Calver Telescope

This telescope by George Calver, which was extensively modified in the mid 20th century to a Schmidt design was returned to its original Newtonian configuration, fitted with a new drive, and rehoused in a new dome. Though the telescope has some claim to fame as an early Schmidt-type system in the UK, it was never very successful in this form and if restored to this configuration would have been badly affected by the increasingly bright sky background in Armagh. The old dome was in very bad condition, of utility construction, and of no historical or architectural value. The original Calver mirror for the telescope will be tested by the Sinden Optical Company and, if found satisfactory, will be coated with a high reflectivity material to allow the use of the telescope by future students of astronomy. Access to wheelchairs will be provided and a dehumidifier installed to reduce the risk of corrosion.

Calver Telescope Calver Telescope

Extract from Armagh Observatory 1790-1967 by Patrick Moore:

The telescope was made by the famous George Calver, in 1883, for a Colonel Tupman, of Harrow, who was a wealthy amateur; he had taken part in eclipse expeditions between 1870 and 1875, and made observations of the transits of Venus in 1874 and 1882. Tupman spent £800 on the telescope, and a further sum on a suitable dome. When the work was finished, officialdom stepped in. The story is best told in Ellison's own words:

"Those enlightened and progressive patrons of science, the local British Bumbles, raised his rates, on the pretext of the new building. Colonel Tupman was so disgusted that he dismantled the telescope and pulled down the dome. After some time Mr. John Pierce, of the Wexford Engineering Works, bought it for £200 to replace his 8in. Wray refractor. Mr. Pierce had been persuaded to acquire the instrument by an engineer in his employment, who promised to oversee the erection of both telescope and dome, but when the work was half done the engineer was tempted away by the offer of a lucrative post in Australia, leaving Mr. Pierce with the instrument on his hands. Mr. Pierce sent for me, and consulted me . . . He entreated me to take the thing away as a gift. I replied that even to transport it would cost more than I could afford. "Never mind that," he replied. "I will send the steam lorry and deliver it at your door." In this way I came into possession of the largest telescope in Ireland . . . Before re-erecting the telescope here I lightly re-figured the mirror, which was rather under-corrected, to its very great benefit."

See also:

Account by W.F.A. Ellison of the History of the Calver Telescope

Restored Calver returns to the Observatory

Being removed for restoration

Schmidt Configuration

Telescope and Dome Restoration Project

Last Revised: 2011 October 21st