Boller and Chivens 50 cm (20 inch)


Summary; History; Current; Technical; Sources; Links; Gallery:

In brief

Important  Contributions:


  • Bought from America in 1968 for a cost of R35 000-00. The telescope was electronically controlled, which was a main feature for  the time period.
  • The  Minister of Mines and Planning, Dr Carel de Wet officially  opened the telescope. (Opening arranged under auspices of CSIR)
  • At the Republic Observatory, it was used mainly by Knipe for photoelectric  photometry of photometric double stars and eclipsing binaries.  [Smits] Its main purpose was photometry and planetary photography [News Note, Mnassa v74 n1-2, p4.]
  • When the observatory at Sutherland was established this telescope was chosen because “it was the only telecope ready for use around June 1972”. At Sutherland it was first equipped with the Texas designed UCT-photometer, and later with the “Peoples Photometer”. Many papers about rapid variables such as dwarf novae resulted from this telescope. [News Note, Mnassa v74 n1-2, p4.]
  • As Sutherland is a prime observing site this telescope became redundant and it was decided to use the dome for more modern equipment. Both the Boller and Chivens 50 cm (20-inch) and the Grubb Parsons 75 cm (30-inch) were donated to other establishments. This telescope was donated to Boyden Observatory in 2015.


Historical Background


Where  located:

  • Republic Observatory 1968 – 1972
  • Sutherland 1972 – 2015
  • Boyden 2015 – present.

Current  Information

Present  Location:
Boyden Observatory

University of the Free State



Technical  Details

Type: Reflector
Aperture: 20 inch (50.8 cm)
Focal Length:
Mounting: Boller & Chivens
Manufacturer: Boller & Chivens [Personal communication between Hers and Smits]
At the Republic Observatory it was housed in the Herbert Baker  designed building that used to house the Reunert telescope before it moved to the new office / library building.


Link to the Main Bibliography Section and more information about Sources.


Pictorial  Sources:


  • Moore, P. & Collins, P., Astronomy in Southern Africa, pp. 105 –  106. (General Source)
  • News Note: SAAO donates 0.5-m and 0.75-m telescopes; MNASSA Vol 74 nos 1 – 2, February 2015.
  • Smits, P., A Brief History of Astronomy in Southern Africa. (Unpublished)
  • The  South African Astronomical Observatory, p.4.
    (Publication of SAAO, no author, no date)