Lick Observatory's 36" Refractor
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  1. #1
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    I made a trip up to Lick Obsevatory Sunday, and was surprised to see a prominent Warner and Swasey sign on the tube of the 1888 Lick 36" Refractor. I was unaware that Warner and Swasey ever made telescopes. The guide was rather proud of the fact that the telescope weighs 36 tons and is so well-balanced that a single person can easily move it.

    Dave

  2. #2
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    "I was unaware that Warner and Swasey ever made telescopes."

    American Car and Foundry, a railcar manufacturing company, made the containment vessel for the first thermonuclear bomb, the famous "Mike" test, which ranaway to 15 megatons.

    Federal Radio made the magnetic structure for Lawrence's cyclotron.

    Westinghouse Electric made the structure for the 100" Hale telescope.

    I guess lots of industrial companies get involved in strange projects, from time to time.

  3. #3
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    Telescope making wasn't a one off proposition for Warner and Swasey, they made a good number of them, including the "meridian circle" used by the Naval Observatory in D.C. (which is actually on a meridian) to make precise time measurements.

    W&S also made the observatory clocks and drives for the telescopes.

    I am unaware if Warner and Swasey made any optics but some of the larger 'scopes had their mirrors ground and "figured" by specialty makers.

    There is a parallel here between Jones and Lamson and Warner and Swasey. At least one of the founders of each comapny was greatly interested in astronomy and made at least one telescope for himself.

    It appears that W&S became quite forcefully engaged in telescope making for full fledged astronomical observatoies.

    In Europe, SIP of Geneva built observatory telescopes at one time early in the comapny's history.

  4. #4
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    This Saturday,February 4th,2006 1:00PM,
    Dr.Edward Pershey,Ph.D., Director of Education and Research for the Western Reserve Historical Society traces the intriguing story of Worchester Warner and Ambrose Swasey, working-class entrepreneurs who built the largest,most powerful astronomical research telescopes in the world- the University of California's LICK Observatory and the University of Chicago's YERKES Observatory.
    Western Reserve Historical Society
    10825 East Boulevard
    Cleveland, Ohio 44106
    216-721-5722 www.WRHS.ORG

  5. #5
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    Jim, I suppose you know that Springfield, Vermont (Jones and Lamson) has a long history of interest in telescope making, mostly amateurs, some well heeled, some quite eccentric, and longer and stronger than many other places.

    They still hold little conventions there for this activity.

    Northernsinsger

  6. #6
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    northernsinger:

    I was unaware of that. I probably would be more active in telescope work but no one around here has much if any interest at all.

    There is an amateur astronomy society here but everybody has so much moolah that they just go out and buy a fancy rig. No they aren't hillbillies, they are DC transplants.

    Most of them are lookers and they don't even bother to set their hour axis north.

    There are still places here where you can get away from the lights at night, but they are getting more difficult to find.

  7. #7
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    Jim, you're right about the brightness closing in: I hate it.

    If you search internet under 'Springfield Vermont telescope' you'll find some enjoyable discussion (including mention of James Hartness and Ralph Flanders of Jones & Lamson).

    Russell Porter--whose biography I read a number of years ago--from Springfield, left town in the late 1920's to work on the Palomar Observatory. He was the eccentric I was thinking of in my earlier post.

    Northernsinger

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    I went to school at J & L In Springfield, VT in 1971. The local hotel at that time was the former Hartness mansion, up on top of a hill. There was an observatory with dome out in the yard and a tunnel connecting it to the basement of the mansion. Mr. Hartness apparently didn't like to go out in the cold. By 1971 the observatory had been converted into the hotel bar.
    Mr. Hartness is credited with many early inventions in turret lathes.

  9. #9
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    I'd like to hear about J & L in 1971. But we probably ought to take it out of the W & S place.

    The mansion is thriving as a B & B. And I think the observatory is an observatory now.

    Northernsinger

  10. #10
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    I'll drink to that. [img]smile.gif[/img]

  11. #11
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    I don't know quite why we talk so much about telescopes here but I just want to add that I received yesterday an invitation from an organization I'm a member of to a cash bar event to be held at 'The Hartness House.'

    I guess--if I don't drink too much--that I could check on the current telescope situation.

    Northernsinger

  12. #12
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    They also built the 6" refractor that is at the Cleveland Natural History Museum.


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