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H10187 Astronomical lens, 7 1/4-inch, brass / glass, made by Merz and Son, Munich, Germany, 1860-1861, used at Sydney Observatory, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Click to enlarge.

Merz & Son 7 1/4-inch astronomical lens, used at Sydney Observatory.

Designed
In 1860 Reverend William Scott, the first astronomer appointed to the new Sydney Observatory, ordered a new 7 1/4 inch refracting telescope. Arriving in June 1861 it was made by the German firm of Georg Merz & Sons (1793-1867). This lens also made by Merz & Sons was used in conjunction the Merz telescope. Like many of the instruments ordered by the observatory this telescope and lens were not without problems but overall they appear to have been a good purchase.

In 1870 the then Government Astronomer H. C. Russell found problems with the lens while using the instrument for double star measures. As a result he adjusted the lenses by separating them with thin pieces of tin and "after many attempts, I found the definition wonderfully improved." The lens has a focal length of 315cm (10 feet 4 inches).

This seems to have improved the usefulness of the telescope and in 1871 Russell used it to make observations on the positions of stars in the Nebula about Argus. In 1872 he was using it to look at the coloured cluster of stars around Kappa Crucis which had previously been looked at by Sir Thomas Brisbane's 2-inch mural circle. In 1874 the Merz telescope went to Eden with W. Scott to observe the Transit of Venus.

By 1878 the worth of this instrument was no longer in doubt as illustrated by the following comments by H. C. Russell, "Of the quality of the 7 1/4 -inch telescope I need say nothing more now than it is a first-class instrument " From 1890 to 1947 it was used as the guide telescope for the Sydney astrographic telescope. It is clear from the continued use of this telescope and the lens that it was an integral part of the Observatory's operations and played a significant role in the early development of astronomy in Australia.

References
Todd, David, P., Stars and Telescopes, Sampson Low, Marston, and Co., 1900
Russell, H., C., Nebula About Argus, cited in 'Scientific Papers 1871 to 1879', New South Wales Government Printer, 1879
Russell, H., C., The Coloured Cluster About Kappa Crucis, cited in 'Scientific Papers 1871 to 1879', New South Wales Government Printer, 1879
Haynes, Raymond, Haynes, Roslynn, Malin, David, McGee, Richard, Explorers of the Southern Sky, Cambridge University Press, 1996
De-Clerq, P.R., Nineteenth Century Instruments and their Makers; Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1985

Geoff Barker, August, 2007

Summary

Object No.

H10187

Object Statement

Astronomical lens, 7 1/4-inch, brass / glass, made by Merz and Son, Munich, Germany, 1860-1861, used at Sydney Observatory, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Physical Description

Circular telescope lens in a brass casing, lens secured to the casing with 3 screws, 5 screw holes in the projecting outer rim. Called an objective glass lens, the lens has a focal length of 315cm (10 feet 4 inches). Cited in reference to Observatory stock number 41, 'Old Astrograph'.

Dimensions

Height

55 mm

Production

Notes

The lens was made by Merz and Sons in Munich, Germany between 1860 and 1861.

Merz and Sons
The company of Merz and Mahler was a direct inheritor of the, 'Optical Mechanical Institute' of Munich, previously operated by the German opticians Fraunhofer and Reichenbach. From 1826 Merz managed the 'Optical Mechanical Institute' with J. Mahler and in 1845 Merz took sole charge of the business. At the 1851 exhibition Merz and Sons were awarded with a Council Medal, the highest award, for their equatorial telescope. His sons inherited the business and when one of them Sigmund died ownership passed onto Sigmund's cousin Jakob Merz who sold it to Paul Zschokke in 1903.

Merz optical lenses combined flint and crown glass lenses and were used in some of the largest refracting telescopes in Europe and America. German opticians dominated the optical business for much of the nineteenth century as the best optical glass, free of imperfections, was made there.

References
Todd, David, P., Stars and Telescopes, Sampson Low, Marston, and Co., 1900
De-Clerq, P.R., Nineteenth Century Instruments and their Makers; Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1985

History

Notes

According to the blue file, the lens was part of the first major telescope at the Sydney Observatory. It was used as a guide telescope lens for Sydney astrograph from 1890-1947. Owned by the Sydney Observatory.

Cite this Object

Harvard

Merz & Son 7 1/4-inch astronomical lens, used at Sydney Observatory. 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 30 September 2020, <https://ma.as/231116>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/231116 |title=Merz & Son 7 1/4-inch astronomical lens, used at Sydney Observatory. |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=30 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.