Summary

Great Melbourne Telescope, built by Thomas Grubb of Dublin in 1868 and erected at Melbourne Observatory in 1869.

Reflector telescope, Cassegrain design, with a 48 inch speculum (metal) primary mirror.

Used at Melbourne Observatory from 1869 to 1892 to observe changes in the nebulae of the southern hemisphere. Thereafter used only intermittently.

Upon closure of Melbourne Observatory in 1944, sold to the Commonwealth Observatory at Mount Stromlo, Canberra. At Stromlo the telescope was fitted with a 50 inch glass mirror; many of the original parts of the telescope were progressively removed. These were transferred to Museum Victoria in 1978-84.

Significance

Statement of Signficiance:
The Great Melbourne Telescope was built by Thomas Grubb of Dublin in 1868 and erected at Melbourne Observatory in 1869. It was a reflector telescope with a speculum (metal) mirror of 48 inches diameter; at the time it was the second largest telescope in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere.
The design and construction was overseen by a committee of eminent British astronomers, who developed the telescope to study the nebulae of the southern hemisphere skies. It was the first major telescope built by Thomas Grubb, and revolutionary in many aspects of its design. The firm went on to make many of the major telescopes around the world in the second half of the 19th century.
The telescope never lived up to expectations, due to difficulties with constant tarnishing of its mirrors, flexure in the mirrors, and its relative unsuitability for the new astronomical techniques of photography and spectroscopy.
The telescope was operated at Melbourne Observatory by a dedicated Great Melbourne Telescope Observer: Albert Le Seuer (1869-70), E F MacGeorge (1870-72), Joseph Turner (1873-83), Pietro Baracchi (1883-92); thereafter it was used only intermittently.
When Melbourne Observatory closed in 1944, the telescope was sold to the Commonwealth Observatory at Mount Stromlo, Canberra.

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