8″ Clark Refractor

The Clark Telescope in the Basement:

This is our big project. When installed, it will be 15 feet tall and weigh 2000 pounds. It deserves a 16 foot diameter observatory dome.

Oh the shame; an astronomical telescope with no view of the sky!

This is an eight inch Type B astronomical telescope made by Alvan Clark & Sons Company. It is believed to have been made to order for Manuel Grno De Castresana in 1924 who unfortunately died at about that time. The Clark Company offered an 8″ telescope for sale in 1925 in settlement of an estate. Again in 1931, the Clark Co. offered an 8″ telescope for sale…

And here is Gustavus Wynne Cook looking pretty proud of his 8″ Clark, in 1931.  Gus tired of his toy and soon bought a much bigger telescope. The 8″ Clark was disassembled, used for spare parts, and stored in a bathtub in a gatehouse. Gustavus Cook died in 1940, and left his astronomical empire to the UofP. In the 1950s, the 8″ Clark was reassembled by J. W. Fecker of Pittsburgh, and installed in the Student Observatory on the roof of the UofP’s David Rittenhouse Laboratory.

This is a group of enthusiasts preparing for a transit of Mercury in 1973. The Student Observatory was not a happy place for the Cook, the telescope lost several battles with the roll off roof. It also suffered too much attention from grad students trying to modernize it. The telescope was used, but not very well cared for for the fifty years it lived in the Student Observatory. “The budget”. The telescope was suffering a “clunk” each time it approached meridian, and it generally was more than “the kids” could handle. Where does one find a large telescope repairman these days? The solution was to dump the telescope and get a couple really neat 10 inch Meades, and some binoculars!

The telescope was appreciated and loved by some people…

So the wrecking crew arrives. The telescope was rescued by the Antique Telescope Society, and the Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers.  Fifteen feet tall and two thousand pounds, on the roof….

The telescope is being repaired, and is in better condition than it has been in fifty years. Hopefully soon it will find an observatory where it can do what it was built for ninety years ago.

More to come…..