mcclean_24i

Victoria Telescope

better known as McClean Telescope

61 cm (24 inch)

 McClean_61c24i_-05t

Index:

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

In brief

Important Contributions:

Description:

 This instrument was well suited for astronomical photography and described as a “first-rate telescope.” The telescope carries the name of Frank McClean from Rusthall, Kent. He  was a fellow of the Royal Society (England), engineer and enthusiastic  astronomy amateur. He gave the telescope to Gill as a gift. The instrument became officially known in South Africa  as the Victoria Telescope, but better known as the McClean telescope.
Note: According to Moore, it was the private property of McClean,  who in later years offered it to Gill. According to Smits, it was commissioned by McClean to be built by Grubb and was shipped immediately to the Cape Observatory. [Smits quoting MNASSA Vol. 57]

Historical Background

Owner:
Cape Observatory (now S.A.A.O.)

Where  Located:
Cape Observatory.

Extra  Information:

  • The  instrument was used in conjunction with the Astrographic telescope to photograph the sky for the project called Cape Photographic Catalogue 1950.0 (CPC  50). Attached to the telescope was the “old” astrometric blue corrected camera. [Laing, p.30]
  • Initially  the telescope was mainly used for spectroscopy with particular  reference to radial velocities and the determination of the orbits of spectroscopic binaries.
  • Later  it was used for parallax, miscellaneous photographic and photometry studies.

Current  Information

Present  Location:
Observatory (Cape Town)

Owner:
S.A.A.O.

Status:
Operational

Condition:

Technical  Details

Type: Astrographic Refractor “It is a triple refractor with a 24 inch (60.96 cm) photographic objective, an 18 inch (45.72 cm) visual objective and an 8 inch (20.32 cm) guiding telescope all of 22.5 feet (685.8 cm) focal length” [Copied from Laing, p.30.]
Aperture:
Focal Length:
Lens:
Mounting:
Attachments:

Manufacturer: Grubb of Ireland. This company made instruments that were used in  many Colonies of the British Empire. Due to the political situation  in Ireland at the time, the workers perceived the company as being  pro-British, and thus stalled construction. This meant that the telescope was completed a year late, in 1898. The objective lens had to be sent back for reconfiguring (probably due to sabotage  by Grubb employees); thus the official opening only took place on 10 September 1901. Sir Walter Hely Hutchinson, Governor of the Cape Colony, performed the ceremony.
Building: The building that houses the telescope is most interesting with a moveable floor (hydraulically operated rising floor) and was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
Operational History:

  • Acquired in 1897.
  • Overhauled and modernised in 1953. [Laing, p.30.]

Sources

Documentation:

Pictorial  Sources:

  • Laing,  J.D. (ed.), The Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope 1820 – 1970 Sesquicentennial Offerings, p.30.
  • Moore, P. & Collins, P., Astronomy in Southern Africa, p. 78. (General  Source)

Bibliography:

  • Laing,  J.D. (ed.), The Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope 1820 – 1970 Sesquicentennial Offerings, p.30.
  • Moore, P. & Collins, P., Astronomy in Southern Africa, p. 79. (General  Source)
  • Smits, P., A Brief History of Astronomy in Southern Africa. (Unpublished)
  • McClean  Telescope Celebrates its 100th Anniversary, MNASSA, Vol. 57, Nos. 3 & 4, 1998, April.
  • Laing, J.D. (ed.), The Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope 1820  – 1970 Sesquicentennial Offerings. p. 17.

Links

Gallery

McClean_61c24i_-05r
The 24 inch Victoria telescope, better known as the McClean telescope.
Source: A.S.S.A. Archives: Peter Smits Collection.

McClean_61c24i_-02r2
Photo Credit: Charles Field, Wynberg. Source: Laing.

McClean_61c24i_-03r2
Courtesy Africana Museum, Johannesburg. Source: Moore.

McClean_61c24i_-06r
A close up of the McClean telescope with Peter Smits.
Source: A.S.S.A. Archives: Peter Smits Collection.

McClean_61c24i_-04r
Opening seremony for the McClean Telescope.
Source: Laing.

McCleanDome-03r
The building housing the telescope.
Source: A.S.S.A. Archives: Peter Smits Collection