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2008/19/1 Astrographic telescope, lens and accessories, metal / glass / wood / leather, made by Howard Grubb, 1888-1890, used by Melbourne and Sydney observatories, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia / Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1890-1987. Click to enlarge.

13-inch Melbourne astrographic telescope made by Howard Grubb

Made by Sir Howard Grubb and Sons Ltd in Dublin, Ireland, 1888-1890.
In 1887 astronomers from around the world embarked on a massive new enterprise; known as the Carte du Ciel (Mapping the Stars) project it involved photographing and measuring the stars in both hemispheres. Australia was actively involved in this international project with observatories in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth being keen participants. Each observatory was allocated a zone of the sky and was expected to record it using instruments of a standard pattern.

British institutions preferred to patronize Howard Grubb of Dublin who took on the work of constructing seven of the astrographs needed. This accession contains the original Grubb telescope ordered by Melbourne Observatory in 1888 and which arrived in Melbourne in 1890.

Between 1890 and 1948 the instrument was used to take thousands of photographic plates for the project. Combined with those taken using Sydney Observatory's camera, these produced a comprehensive map of much of the southern stars.

The Melbourne Observatory was closed as a state institution in 1944 and the telescope was subsequently moved to Sydney where it was housed in a purpose-built dome. This was made between 1949 and 1952 by volunteers, including staff from the local engineering firm of Morts Dock Engineering Company. This was the same firm that made the mounts and barrel of Sydney Observatory's astrographic camera between 1888 and 1890.

In 1955 a lens by Taylor, Taylor and Hobson was added to the telescope and this new lens allowed photographs of a greater field of diameter to be taken. The telescope was subsequently lent to Macquarie University along with the original Grubb lens and another lens used in the Sydney astrographic camera to take many of the Sydney Observatory's original photographic plates. These three lenses are included in this accession.

The telescope and its accessories were used in the international Carte du Ciel (Mapping the Stars) project from the late 1800s right through until the 1960s and are linked to the many surviving photographic plates taken over this period. This prolonged activity on one of the most significnat astronomical projects undertaken in Australia means it has played a significant role in the development of astronomy and the sciences in Australia.

The instrument and lenses made by Sir Howard Grubb are also of importance as the company was one of the best known instrument makers of the late nineteenth century. The fact that this particular astrograph is one of only seven made by Grubb for the Mapping the Stars project adds to its international significance.

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management project, December 2008

References
Russell, H. C., Description of the Star Camera at The Sydney Observatory, Alfred James Kent, Government Printer, 1923, p.4
King, H., C., The History of the Telescope, Dover Publications, New York, 1955, p.300
Glass, I. S., Victorian Telescope Makers; the Lives and Letters of Thomas and Howard Grubb, Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol and Philadelphia, 1997

Summary

Object No.

2008/19/1

Object Statement

Astrographic telescope, lens and accessories, metal / glass / wood / leather, made by Howard Grubb, 1888-1890, used by Melbourne and Sydney observatories, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia / Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1890-1987

Physical Description

Astronomical equipment comprising original Grubb lens, lens from Sydney Observatory astrographic camera, observation furniture and other accessories.

Production

Notes

Thomas Grubb entered the scientific instrument business in the 1830s and quickly made a name for himself constructing telescopes. Largely self taught he ran his firm from Charlemont Bridge in Dublin where he developed both his mechanical and optical skills. As the market for telescopes was fairly limited it is likely Grubb made most of his money form his appointment as Engineer to the Bank of England and from his patented cheap lenses.

The commission for the huge 48-inch reflector in Melbourne led Grubb to set up a separate workshop at Rathmines, Ireland. This workshop was developed by his son Howard Grubb after the retirement of his father in 1870.

In the later part of the nineteenth century contracts for large telescopes began to dry up and Howard Grubb shifted the businesses focus to military optics. The company moved its operation to St Albans in 1920 and in 1925 was acquired by Sir Charles Parson. It was renamed Sir Howard Grubb Parsons and Co Ltd (known as Grubb Parsons) and based in Newcastle upon Tyne. This company built optical components for a number of telescopes including the Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring near Coonabarabran.

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management project, December 2008

References
Glass, I. S., Victorian Telescope Makers; the Lives and Letters of Thomas and Howard Grubb, Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol and Philadelphia, 1997
King, H., C., The History of the Telescope, Dover Publications, New York, 1955

History

Used

Melbourne Observatory 1890-1987

Used

Sydney Observatory 1890-1987

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Macquarie University, 2008

Acquisition Date

31 January 2008

Cite this Object

Harvard

13-inch Melbourne astrographic telescope made by Howard Grubb 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 4 June 2020, <https://ma.as/375200>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/375200 |title=13-inch Melbourne astrographic telescope made by Howard Grubb |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=4 June 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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